Objective 1: To consolidate a Network of researchers actively involved in collecting comet assay data on DNA damage (and DNA repair) in human populations.
Objective 2: To collect the results of individual human population studies and create a unified database of comet assay data relating to human health and disease.
Objective 3: To establish (by pooled analyses) the methodological, demographic, genetic and exposure variables that determine levels of DNA damage as measured in PBMN cells.
Objective 4: To determine the experimental factors affecting the performance of the assay and therefore its reliability and reproducibility.
Objective 5: To carry out ring studies with standard comet assay protocols, in order to identify best practice.
Objective 6: To provide guidelines/standard operating procedures (SOPs) for best practice in design of human population studies, and in performance of the comet assay; and to encourage the use of standard protocols to facilitate the comparison of results from different studies.
Objective 7: To compare different biological source materials: PBMN cells, leukocytes from frozen blood, buccal epithelial cells, etc.
Objective 8: To prepare for a subsequent prospective human trial to test DNA damage and DNA repair as predictive markers of disease, making use of technical and theoretical approaches developed in the COST Action.
Objective 9: To create a cohort of skilled young molecular epidemiologists by providing training courses and supporting exchange visits between laboratories.
Objective 10: To support small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and other companies using the comet assay, by providing definitive guidelines and SOPs.