ethidium bromide alternative?

workshop at workshop at
Thu Oct 19 13:04:39 EST 1995

>   horton at (Robert Horton) writes:
>  Hector Cruz-Lopez (pezmen at 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       (612)625-8941
I have taken quite a liking to SYBR green as an alternative to staining with ethdium bromide.  We get ours from FMC Corporation 
in Maine (you know, the agarose people.....)

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