School of Medical Sciences

Genetic and epigenetic tests for long term effects of anticancer drugs and other materials

The Centre for Mutagen Testing Services undertakes the assessment of DNA damage due to different mechanisms which are monitored through biomarker assays.


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 of the Auckland Cancer Society Research Centre together with 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


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

For Biomonitoring Services contact:

Prof. Lynn Ferguson

Phone: +64 9 923 6372