Auckland Cancer Society Research Centre

Assessment of genetic consequences of anti-cancer drugs and other materials

The Cancer Diagnosis, Management and Prevention Group undertakes the assessment of DNA damage due to different mechanisms which are monitored through biomarker assays.


Micronuclei assay

Micronuclei assay

Micronuclei arise from chromosome fragments or whole chromosomes, which lag during cell division because of inadequate adhesion to the spindle and fail to be incorporated into the main nucleus. They can be readily scored under the microscope as small round bodies adjacent to the main nuclei in binucleate cells and within the same cytoplasm. We utilise the tissue culture facility at the Auckland Cancer Society Research Centre together with a Zeiss Axioskop2 microscope fitted with brightfield and phase contrast objectives to accomplish this assay. This facility is mainly used for biomonitoring of potential occupational hazards especially by way of chemicals or radiation.

Alkali Comet Assay


The alkali comet assay can detect DNA strand breaks in cells produced by incomplete excision repair sites or by endogenous hydroxyl radicals through Fenton type reactions and alkali-labile sites. We currently use a fluorescent Zeiss Axioskop2 microscope fitted with a 100W mercury burner (Osram), an excitation filter of 515–560nm and a barrier filter of 590nm, the Evolution VF cooled monochrome camera kit (MediaCybernetics Bethesda, USA) and Komet 6.0 Single Cell Gel Electrophoresis Analysis software (Andor Technology, Ireland) for this  assay.

For biomonitoring services contact:

Dr Nishi Karunasinghe
Research Fellow
Phone: +64 9 923 4609