RE: Alcian Blue for ... [urban myths]

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From:"J. A. Kiernan" <>
To:Histonet <>
Content-Type:TEXT/PLAIN; charset=US-ASCII

On Sat, 1 Jul 2000, jim wrote:

> I think that the concentration of Alcian Blue will soon be academic. ...
> ...     ProSciTech has no more Alcian Blue available. "

  This was aired on Histonet several months ago, and major
  suppliers indicated that there was no impending shortage of
  the dye. The Colour Index (CD-ROM, 1996) indicates that
  it is still manufactured by 2 or 3 companies as a textile
  dye, under various trade names. Any supplier of biological 
  stains can buy the textile dye, test it as a stain, and 
  sell it as alcian blue. 

  The Biological Stain Commission regularly tests batches
  of alcian blue submitted by vendors and certifies them
  if they are OK for staining. Basic copper phthalocyanine
  dyes labelled alcian blue have always been pretty variable,
  so it's best to buy from a certified batch. 

  There's nothing new in perceived shortages of biological
  stains. In the early 1970s haematoxylin was supposedly in
  short supply (= prices up) for such mythical reasons as a
  disease of Carribean logwood trees and a sunk ship that
  carried the world's harvest of Haematoxylon heartwood.
  In the early 1990s there was a similar non-shortage of
  light green SF (supposedly because of a banned toxic
  compound used in its manufacture). The Biological Stain
  Commission soon sorted that one out (Penney & Powers 1995
  Biotechn Histochem 70:217). There was never a real
  shortage of the dye, but some bogus compounds (not certified
  by the BSC) had been sold, and they didn't work.
  (Bear in mind also that fast green FCF is better than 
  light green in every way, and has identical staining

 John A. Kiernan,
 Department of Anatomy & Cell Biology,
 The University of Western Ontario,
 LONDON,  Canada  N6A 5C1

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