The Ames test is a widely employed method that uses bacteria to test whether a given chemical can cause mutations in the DNA of the test organism. More formally, it is a biological assay to assess the mutagenic potential of chemical compounds. A positive test indicates that the chemical is mutagenic and therefore may act as a carcinogen, because cancer is often linked to mutation. The test serves as a quick and convenient assay to estimate the carcinogenic potential of a compound because standard carcinogen assays on mice and rats are time-consuming (taking two to three years to complete) and expensive. However, false-positives and false-negatives are known. The procedure was described in a series of papers in the early 1970s by Bruce Ames and his group at the University of California, Berkeley.
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