New technology for genotoxic testing arouses global interest


With Flash-comet, researchers at Uppsala University is introducing a faster and more cost-effective technology to locate DNA strand breaks in single cells. "We firmly believe that Flash-comet has the potential to revolutionize our field, and are now in talks with a potential European partner to via in-depth cooperation take our technology to the market," says Björn Hellman, Professor of Toxicology.

Erik Bivehed, PhD student at the Faculty of Pharmacy
Erik Bivehed, PhD student at the Faculty of Pharmacy

Each drug candidate must undergo a series of studies before it can be approved for registration. For the pharmaceutical industry, this means several expensive toxic studies that take many years to complete. Already at an early stage, the risk that the candidate will cause damage to the genome is tested, a trial that can be performed comparatively fast and cheap. Thus, if damage is identified, the substance may have cancer-causing properties, and candidates with unfavorable gentox profiles are hence often rejected without further testing.

“Our research group in Genetic Toxicology is increasingly focusing on the development of effective methods for registering DNA breaks and chromosome damage in single cells. After several important breakthroughs, we launched Flash-comet in 2021, a technology that we firmly believe has the potential to revolutionize our entire field,” states Björn Hellman, Professor of Toxicology at the Faculty of Pharmacy.

Björn Hellman, Professor of Toxicology
Björn Hellman, Professor of Toxicology

Flash-comet offers a development of Comet assay, a method that was introduced in Uppsala  in the 1970s. After the technology was further sophisticated in laboratories around the world, Sweden and Uppsala University recently regained pole position, and with the modified version Björn Hellman's research group is now presenting, faster and more cost-effective ways to locate both single-strand and double-strand breaks in individual cells are made possible.

“Our group has also launched a new statistical method to analyse comet data, and when Erik Bivehed, PhD student in our team and central to the progress, presented the project at an international conference, he met great enthusiasm. Erik recently received an invitation to give a lecture on our results at this year's Comet Meeting in Maastricht, Holland, and our group is already negotiating with a potential European partner to via in-depth cooperation bring Flash comet to the market,” says Björn Hellman.



Björn Hellman, ProfessorBjörn Hellman, Professor
Faculty of pharmacy

Erik BivehedErik Bivehed, doktorand
Farmaceutiska fakulteten

Text: Magnus Alsne, photo: Mikael Wallerstedt

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Last modified: 2022-11-08