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Creators Of New Dye Offer It Free For Research

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It sounds like a TV infomercial, but it’s actually a news release from the University of Copenhagen: “I know that our dye is better, but biologists and physicians don’t. Therefore, we are giving the dye away to anyone that wants to perform a comparison test.”

So said Thomas Just Sørensen, PhD, a chemistry researcher at the university, as quoted in the news release. Dr. Sørensen and university colleague Bo Wegge Laursen, PhD, an associate professor of chemistry, say their aza-oxa-trangulenium dyes can outperform all other fluorescent dyes currently used in imaging. In fact, said Dr. Sørensen:

Our dyes are 10 times better, far cheaper, and easier to use. The latter, I believe, lends itself to expanded opportunities and broadened use, by physicians and researchers in developing countries, for example.

Their dye is so good, the researchers say, because it solves the problem of “light noise.” Fluorescent dyes luminesce when exposed to light—but so does random body tissue. For both other dyes and body tissues, luminescence lasts 10 nanoseconds. But the triangulenium dyes luminesce for 100 nanoseconds, making them easily distinguishable because they outlast the background light.

When used for staining tissue samples, triangulenium requires only one agent while most other dyes require two, the news release says. And no specialized equipment is required to see the dyes in tissue samples—just a microscope and a lens from a pair of polarized sunglasses.

Still, adoption of the new dye has been slow. Hence the free offer. “Someone who needs to assess the health of sick people wouldn’t dare to rely on an untested substance,” Dr. Sørensen said. “Only when several researchers have shown triangulenium dyes to perform just as effectively as its predecessors can we hope for our substance to become more widely adopted.”

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Which is better for determining the sex of a mummy: a CT scan or “uncorroborated opinion”? Do you think answering that question would merit a published journal article? It did for three Australian researchers. For details, see our Facebook page.

Related seminar: UCSF Interventional Radiology Review

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