Equipment and supplies for general electrophoresis on agarose have undergone little change over the last two decades. Improved imaging systems and labelling agents for high sensitivity detection and linear quantitation by fluorescence and chemiluminescence offer attractive alternatives to immunostaining and the use of radioisotopes, and have made rapid automated nucleic acid sequencing possible. Except for those involved in nucleic acid work, few laboratories perform electrophoresis on agarose on a day-to-day basis; thus, accessories for many techniques such as immunoelectrophoresis have been dropped by suppliers. There may be a revival because of growing interest in several proteins which are not separable in polyacrylamide matrices, von Willebrand factor multimers for diagnosis of certain types of von Willebrand's disease, and high molecular mass derivatives of fibrinogen as markers of vascular disease.

More efficient cooling and thermal control would allow the application of much higher voltages for high performance agarose electrophoresis above the present limitations imposed by gel meltdown. By using an apparatus in which the gel is enveloped with a membranous bladder for cooling, von Willebrand factor multimers can be separated in 20 min runs producing resolution superior to that obtained with the usual overnight runs widely used through the 1990s.

Precast polyacrylamide gels have become popular, and precast agarose gels are available for submarine electrophoresis. Compressibility of agarose is the principal detriment to precasts for other modes of electrophoresis. Agarose/polyacrylamide composites would not be subject to that drawback, and would probably be marketable in precast form because they offer advantages and are not as easily constructed as gels of agarose itself.

Summarily, agarose gels are simple to construct. They are highly porous and ideal for separating high molecular mass proteins and nucleic acids, and can be modified or composited to extend their utility.

See Colour Plate 39.

Solar Panel Basics

Solar Panel Basics

Global warming is a huge problem which will significantly affect every country in the world. Many people all over the world are trying to do whatever they can to help combat the effects of global warming. One of the ways that people can fight global warming is to reduce their dependence on non-renewable energy sources like oil and petroleum based products.

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