A cell culturelinks test for assessing a drug candidate’s genetic toxicity has been developed. It may be cheaper than existing animal tests and would allow genetic toxicity tests to be examined far earlier in the drug development process.
Like the current FDA-approved test, the new test looks for DNA damage in red blood cells formed in the bone marrow of mice. The precursors to red blood cells are handy for this because such cells normally lose their nucleus during the last stage of red cell formation, and DNA-damaged precursors generate red blood cells containing an easily detected “micronucleus” consisting of fragments of nuclear DNA.
Unlike the current procedure, which injects the compound into a live mouse, the new assay is a cell-culture system that could allow hundreds or thousands of tests to be performed from the bone marrow of a single mouse, and potentially from human bone marrow.