[Histonet] ready-to-use commercial staining solutions

From:"Helen Lam"

Dear all,
Our lab is thinking about switching to ready-to-use commercial stains.  And  I think there is  no  better place than the Histonet to gather opinions form Histo.people, right?
  1.. What are the pros and cons of using commercial staining solutions?
  2.. Are there anybody out there already using it?  Is it possible to replace most if not all of the 'home-made' reagents you regularly use in your stains by commercial products?  If yes/no, why?
  3.. Even if you are using commercial reagents, is it still necessary to keep a small amount of dyes and chemicals in stock as a 'back-up', just in case the supply of commercial reagents may become uncertain?
  4.. How do you test the commerical reagents and prove that it works satisfactorily on your sections / in your applications?
  5.. Are the price , quality and shelf-life acceptable?  (It would be apprecaited if you could also indicate what brand of what staining solution you are using.)
  6.. Considering the price, quality and shelf-life of commerical reagents, do you think they can satisfactorily replace 'home-made' stains in our setting?  We have 20-30 slides to do everyday by hand (mainly alcian blue, PAS, a few renal and liver penals every week, some requests for micro-organisms at times).  By switching to commercial reagents, we hope that we could reduce the amount or eliminate altogether the need to keep a stock of dangerous chemicals and dye powder.  This in turn should save us some storage space, money(especially for keeping stock of rarely used dyes or chemicals that may go bad after years of standing) and man-hours in  stain preparation.
So what do you think?  Any response to any of the above questions are welcome.  I look forward to hearing from you.  Thanks in advance!

Helen Lam
Tuen Mun Hospital
Hong Kong

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