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The comet assay, also called the single cell gel assay (SCG) and microgel electrophoresis (MGE) was first introduced by Östling and Johanson in 1984 as a microelectrophoretic technique for the direct visualization of DNA damage in individual cells. A small number of irradiated cells suspended in a thin agarose gel on a microscope slide were lysed, electrophoresed, and stained with a fluorescent DNA binding dye. The electric current pulled the charged DNA from the nucleus such that relaxed and broken DNA fragments migrated further. The resulting images, which were subsequently named for their appearance as 'comets', were measured to determine the extent of DNA damage.
(Fairbairn., 1994) The comet assay : a comprehensive review. Mutat Res.