PERHAPS the most successful screening test to detect potential mutagens and/or carcinogens is that of Ames et al.1, using Salmonella. Attempts to use mammalian cells have generally involved measuring some cellular response to DNA damage, for example, induction of DNA repair2; if the response implies that an agent has damaged the DNA, the agent is considered to be a potential mutagen and/or carcinogen. An early response to DNA damage in human cells is inhibition of DNA synthesis. But certain non-DNA-damaging agents also inhibit DNA synthesis. I show here that DNA-damaging and non-DNA-damaging agents can be distinguished by the changes in the rates of DNA synthesis after treatment: with a DNA-damaging agent, the rate of DNA synthesis continues to decrease, but with a non-DNA-damaging agent the rate of DNA synthesis increases after treatment.
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PAINTER, R. Rapid test to detect agents that damage human DNA. Nature 265, 650–651 (1977). https://doi.org/10.1038/265650a0
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