Monday, October 24, 2005

Systems Biology DNA Prep???

Once upon a time, we made the necessary chemicals from scratch to purify DNA from bacterial cultures. These days, for a couple of dollars, you can get all the reagents you need all packaged in a nice box - these things are called commercial "kits".

You may ask, why do you use these kits - Is it laziness? or consistent results? A combination of these answers I guess. In the end those that never made the reagents from scratch are less likely to understand how the procedure worked, and how to trouble-shoot when the procedure fails. The latest kit (from Qiagen) had this flyer and instruction booklet (pic left). But if you read the flyer closely this is what you'll notice:

This is clearly a new all time low in kits. A kit for systems biologists?? ... it's as if the kit's label should have read: "Are you a String-Theorist and want to jump into biology? Well we have the kit for you! Use our NEW AND IMPROVED kit and you'll get your DNA faster than ever (and thought-free too). Now even a clueless Physicist can purify DNA without thinking about how this stuff actually works!". The sad thing is that the kit is EXACTLY THE SAME AS THE OLD KIT, except for some blue dye that helps to evaluate if your bacteria have lysed. But Qiagen really wants us to believe that this kit is NEW AND IMPROVED, and so they added this sentence to the cover of their NEW instruction booklet:

To all those Systems Biologists ... have fun with your blue kits!