ethidium bromide alternative?

Robert Horton horton at biosci.cbs.umn.edu
Fri Oct 13 11:59:30 EST 1995


Hector Cruz-Lopez (pezmen at gate.net) wrote:
: Hoeschst staining is pretty similar to EtBr, also fluorescent but less 
: hazardous (with adversions in mind!).  E-mail if interested and I'll get you 
: the recipes.

How can you say it's less hazardous? As far as I have been able to tell, the
worries about EtBr hazards are largely theoretical. I understand it has been
shown to be mutagenic in bacteria (though I don't have a reference for that),
but it has not been shown to be mutagenic, much less carcinogenic, in mammals.
If I am wrong about this, please correct me. I have not been able to find
good info on this subject in Medline, but maybe you all know something I
don't?

I would think that ANY intercalating dye should be treated with respect
for its mutagenic potential, on theoretical grounds. Or any DNA-binding dye,
for that matter. But why do you worry about EtBr more than about other dyes?
In fact, Ethidium Bromide has been used for years in veternary medicine
to kill trypanosomes. I don't know how much it takes to kill a trypanosome,
but I bet its a bunch. I realize that just because people have used something
for a long time doesn't mean that they actually know a lot about it, but
still, EtBr has been used in large quantities in mammals for a long time,
and, as far as I can tell, has never been shown to be carcinogenic. Can the
same be said for alternative dyes? And scientists have used it for years, too.
Has anybody out there ever had an adverse reaction to the stuff? Personally,
I think it would be wiser to stick with the devil we know...

I don't mean to preach, but this topic really bothers me because it is
a superstition among scientists. If someone can point to an actual study
that shows alternative dyes are safer than EtBr, please let me know.



Robert M. Horton (PhD!) /\ "Crash programs fail because of the theory that
U of M Dermatology Dept || with nine women pregnant you get a baby a month"
Box 98 UMHC, 4-154 PWB /||\ -W. von Braun.   Disclaimer: "Bob who?"
Minneapolis, MN 55455   ^^   horton at biosci.cbs.umn.edu       (612)625-8941




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