Costs of making it from Scratch? (Kit inflation)

Marc Crepeau mwcrepeau at
Thu Apr 30 14:36:52 EST 1998

   How about a new newsgroup? bionet.molbio.mthds-reagnts.hackers! No
discussion of kits and proprietary techniques allowed; only do-it-yourself
methods welcome.

Marc Crepeau
<mwcrepeau at>

P.S. it's a joke. 

In article <35484BD6.261E at biodec.wustl.edu_nospammmmmmm>,
graham at biodec.wustl.edu_nospammmmmmmm wrote:

> Alexander writes:
> > I may have been spoiled but I have not made these solutions in 10 years.
> > I also have used FMC pre-poured agarose gels for the last 3 years. I know
> > how much time this saves me but would it save my lab money? Has anyone
> > done a cost/benefit analysis on this problem? These gels are always ready
> > to go and are consistent.
> Is this what is known as "trolling"?  :)
> See, I told y'all that this would happen back in the early 90s. :)
> Today's scientist can scarcely recall how to make gel running buffer.
> (Imagine those younger than the Alexanders.)
> On a more serious note, the reduction of research to buying expensive
> prepackaged reagents and then mixing them together would seem to have
> had a serious impact on the cost of doing research. Indeed, once
> everyone is using 
> various proprietary materials of which they are allowed only a dim
> understanding, very little progress will be made in the area that is the 
> subject for this forum. 
> Case in point. I did nice work (1989-94) in a lab that churns out at
> least two top quality publication a year from the NIH supported work of
> 3 to 4 graduate students (no techs, no postdocs). We bascially ran on a
> budget of around 
> <$200,000/yr, and no one was left without what they needed. Not a single
> kit was purchased beyond USB Sequenase, which was remixed after the
> first purchase. (A maximum quality miniprep ala Morell's BRL FOCUS or
> Lee and Rasheed is practically free with a standard set of lab
> chmicals). Money went to enzymes and oligos bascially. We read the
> technical articles and refined what we needed considerably.
> Nowadays I have practically an unlimited supply budget which I never
> throw away on things like pre-poured gels. Sadly, the emphasis on DNA
> techniques has strongly shifted to a variety of expensive ($2/ez)
> silica-based propreitary binding columns and other unkown reagent sets.
> The "installed base" has luckily continued to develope new approaches
> based on traditional widely available inexpensive reagents, but I wonder
> how long it will continue. When I need to apply these popular columns,
> which I do have on hand, I am often left with guessing at their
> suitability, and without any means of adjusting the relevant technique
> for the specific application. If I call Technical Support, I basically
> spend 20 minutes teaching the general principles behind the technology.
> (Companies like Dupont, S&S, Micron claim they don't even know the
> minimum size DNA their membranes will bind!)
> How much more will it cost to do research when the tools of the trade
> are turned over to profit-motivated firms who figure that an ice bucket
> should cost $50 if the US government is buying? How much harder does it
> push the competetively-funded basic research field when primary research
> articles describe complex nucleic acid techniques as "as described by
> the manufacturer". (Anyone interested in starting a "dirt-cheap" brand
> based on all non-proprietary reagents?)
> All I ask for, is a filled tip box and a page of techniques I can try
> myself with things on hand. :)
> Carry on,
> Jim
> J. Graham PhD
> Biology Department

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