Students use Irn Bru to replace a laboratory stain

Press/Media: Teaching


As if we didn’t already have enough love for IRN BRU – a group of our students have discovered the famous Scottish drink has capabilities beyond curing a hangover!

As part of their work for Dundee University Young Researchers Association*, third year Life Sciences students David Bell, Lisa Ball and Katie Gilmour are using IRN BRU to identify protein in cells by using it as a stain. Usually, staining cells is done with a chemical called Ponceau S, but the group spotted a similar ingredient in the fizzy drink (called Ponceau 4R) and decided to try something new… Upon further investigation, they discovered that IRN BRU works just as well, and saves them money at the same time – Ponceau S stain costs £2.50 a litre, with a bottle of IRN BRU only £1 a litre!

Katie said, “Protein staining in this way is important in identifying and sizing proteins, which is a vital part of many scientific experiments. We were able to prove that IRN BRU can be used! Further tests are needed, but I don’t see any reason why it wouldn’t be a valid laboratory agent.”

*The Dundee University Young Researchers Association is a society that allows students to pursue small scale independent projects.

Period13 Apr 2016

Media coverage


Media coverage

  • TitleInterview on BBC Radio Scotland
    Degree of recognitionNational
    Media name/outletBBC radio Scotland
    Media typeRadio
    Duration/Length/Size45 seconds?
    Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
    DescriptionI can't remember the exact date but it was in April 2016.
    PersonsDavid Martin