DNA Damage Monitoring Made Easy

The public is gaining awareness of the effects of DNA damage on human health and the ability to repair some DNA damage through lifestyle and nutrition choices. Yet, there is no at-home blood test for assessing DNA damage and monitoring it over time. The only options for DNA damage testing are at clinical sites, and current assessment tools provide less precise information because they do not take the patient’s age into account when interpreting data.

Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory scientists developed an athome blood collection kit that requires only a few drops of blood and immediately fixes the biological activity of blood cells to enable non-toxic sample shipment or storage without changes in specific DNA markers. Samples are then assessed in an automated, highthroughput, reproducible process yielding results taking each patient’s age, health status, and radiation exposure history into account. In two trials conducted in 2013, researchers correlated DNA damage with subjects’ age, indicating the importance of including age in data assessment.

In 2013, startup Exogen Biotechnology recognized the potential for this technology to benefit the public and entered into an agreement with LBNL through the Startup America program. Exogen has raised over $100,000 in an online crowdfunding campaign that offered kits to citizen scientists for their own DNA damage monitoring. Over 215 kits will be shipped to funders in late 2014.