Many human biomonitoring studies have used the comet assay to measure DNA damage (some also measuring DNA repair). In most cases, the assay is applied to peripheral blood mononuclear cells. Results from relatively small individual studies are often inconsistent, and it is advantageous to carry out a pooled analysis of the combined data from all available studies.
hCOMET will be a network comprising researchers who are active (or intend to be active) in human biomonitoring with this assay.
Results supplied by these researchers will be compiled as a single database representing an estimated 19,000 individual DNA damage measurements. The pooled analysis will allow us to determine which factors (smoking, age, nutrition, sex, occupational exposure etc.) affect DNA damage, and to what extent.
Fewer studies have included DNA repair capacity as an endpoint; we will collect what data we can and carry out a detailed review (or a pooled analysis if enough data).
In addition, hCOMET will address the issue of inter-laboratory reproducibility of the assay by devising standard protocols, for both DNA damage and DNA repair measurement, coordinating ring studies to test these protocols, and offering training courses and exchanges, so that in future comparison of results from different studies will be facilitated. We will review applications of the assay to other human cell types and isolation methods (such as leukocytes obtained from frozen blood).