Because of its unique design, the comet assay has proved useful in many fields. As a test for genetic toxicity, it has been widely used in human studies for biomonitoring environmental DNA-damaging substances. A number of clinical applications have also been described, such as monitoring DNA damage in patients undergoing cancer chemo- or radiotherapy. These studies, conducted in peripheral blood cells or in cancer biopsies, can provide information on both the sensitivity of tumor cells to the treatment and the toxic responses of normal tissues. Furthermore, measurement of the basal levels of DNA damage in cancer cells might have potential as a diagnostic and prognostic tool. Other clinical conditions investigated with the comet assay include male infertility and oxidative stress-related pathologies such as diabetes. Another important application is the measurement of oxidative damage in nutritional studies in humans. Finally, in vivo and in vitro experimental studies with the comet assay have provided mechanistic information on the genotoxic effects of chemicals and radiation and on fundamental cellular processes such as DNA repair and apoptosis. Future developments and modifications will probably further enlarge the already wide scope of application of this assay.
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