kits, a never ending story

suter at VAX.MPIZ-KOELN.MPG.dbp.de suter at VAX.MPIZ-KOELN.MPG.dbp.de
Tue Jul 14 05:12:57 EST 1992


-summary of previous discussion:

 j.e. graham wrote:

-Subj:	Re: Science is not Magic (minipreps)
-In article <PREVELIG.92Jul9160715 at eastman1.mit.edu>,
-prevelig at eastman1.mit.edu (Peter Prevelige) wrote:

-> In my estimation the problem with the "kit" mentality is that it leads to
-> stagnancy in the development of methods.

-This is precicely the point I made, not any suggestion about a prohibition
-on the use of kits. It shows clearly in this newsgroup how the use of
-materials that have been marketed as "proprietary" has reduced the exchange
-of information between workers in the field. Try posting a technique
-question
-here and the majority of the response you will get will be "we use the XYZ
-kit
-from ABC, and it works". Remember that buying these "miracle" reagents is
-casting an economic vote against the traditional practice of developing new
-techniques, and publishing them as scientific correspondence.

-Now where's my $50 "research" ice bucket ?

-Jim
-J. E. Graham
-Biology Department
-Indiana University

in our lab we have the following kits:
1. qiagen dna preparation kit: used to prepare plasmid dna for ALF 
(automated sequencing). i have also started using this kit for maxipreps
for the simple reason that it is faster, clean enough for most purposes and 
does not use phenol or CsCl or EtBr.
2. the alf itself: i haven't sequenced myself in the last 8 months, everything
is done by a service here in the institute
3. kit to prepare riboprobes. 
4. kit for random primed labelling (actually homemade !)
7. T7 pol sequencing kit (slowly rotting away in the fridge since alf is here)

looking at this list, perhaps some things occur: the longer a kit has been
in use, the more i am interested in producing the same thing of my own:
i prepare my own buffers for qiagen f.i., we prepare our own RPL kit. But 
even a homegrown kit is still a kit !
Another factor is naturally (and this is the WORST in Molecular Biology)
that we are all in such a hurry ! I have a postdoc for two years, so even 
my boss starts calculating what we have more of: time or money (he
decides for money at the moment). Therefore we bought a kit to prepare
riboprobes, instead of the intelectualy more challenging option of diving
in the library and ordering all items seperately.

Do not get the impression i am all for kits. i think they are here to stay,
and more will be developed. it is the nature of the area we are working in. so,
i can't critisize qiagen for keeping their resin secret: as soon as they let 
out the recipe i will do it all myself. is this suppression of scientific
know how ? i don't think so. most of the purposes of these kits are so 
simple that they do not even deserve the name kit.  
my criticism is that when somebody new arrives in the lab, he or she will
simply start using kits, without knowing how they are built up. This is 
especially clear with the ALF sequencer: perhaps 15 people here in the 
institute use this machine, but only two took the trouble to spare one day to 
actually run through the protocols and use it themselves (before using it for
their sequencing). So, indeed, if you ask me about a problem with sequencing,
i will indeed have to answer: oh, i am sorry, i have my sequencing done (even
though I was one if those two...).  

we have had discussions in our lab about kits also. if i may get very
cinical at the end of my message, i noticed that bosses have more criticism
on kits than their co-workers. they see all the disadvantages that we do:
too expensive, they make you too lazy, you don't know how they work anymore...
meanwhile they forget that they have the ultimate kit: namely a technician....

sorry if i insulted anyone. i think there are some interesting paralels here.

cheers ! clemens
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Clemens Suter-Crazzolara, PhD
Max-Planck-Institut fuer Zuechtungsforschung
Abteilung Genetische Grundlagen der Zuechtungsforschung
Carl-von-Linne Weg 10
5000 Koeln 30
Tel. xx49-221-5062.221           fax. xx49-221-5062.213
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