News of the year 2008 in the
fields of chemistry and chemistry-related topics like biochemistry,
nantechnology, medicinal chemistry etc.
press releases, scientific research results and summaries of chemistry
articles, that are published in chemistry journals.
Please send us a eMail to publish your press release!
ACS News (open access articles):
Study calls for action on heart risks from
certain anti-cancer drugs
Conceptual representation of a
constellation of factors that synergize with cardiotoxicity
induced by a known cardiotoxic drug and make cardiac events occur
at lower than expected cumulative doses of that drug.
Image by P. Menna, E.
Salvatorelli and G. Minotti.
Heart damage from certain anti-cancer drugs no
longer should be regarded as a rare or relatively unimportant
complication, scientists in Italy have concluded in a new overview of
research on the cardiotoxicity of anti-cancer drugs. Their review,
scheduled for the May 19 issue of ACS� monthly journal, Chemical
Research in Toxicology, recommends that drug regulatory agencies,
physicians, and toxicologists join in a focused research effort to
combat the problem.
In the new study, Giorgio Minotti, Pierantonio
Menna, and Emanuela Salvatorelli point out that the risk of
cardiotoxicity may be higher than previously believed, especially in
older patients and those with high blood pressure, coronary artery
disease, and other risk factors. Studies of long-term survivors of
childhood and adult cancer - more than 10 million people in the United
States alone - also suggest an increased risk of symptomatic cardiac
Their review found that newer, targeted drugs can
damage the heart, particularly when combined with old-generation
chemotherapeutics. �Toxicologists and regulatory agencies and
clinicians should therefore join in collaborative efforts that improve
early identification of cardiotoxicity and minimize the risks of
cardiac events in patients,� the article notes. - MTS
Watering tomato plants with
diluted seawater boosts levels of antioxidants, scientists report.
Credit: Courtesy of
Watering tomatoes with diluted seawater can boost
their content of disease-fighting antioxidants and may lead to
healthier salads, appetizers, and other tomato-based foods, scientists
in Italy report. Their study is scheduled for the May 14 issue of ACS�
Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, a bi-weekly publication.
Besides their use in a variety of ethnic food
dishes, tomatoes are one of the most commonly grown home garden
vegetables, particularly cherry tomatoes. Scientists have linked
tomatoes to several health benefits, including protection against
prostate cancer and heart disease. Researchers have known for years
that seawater does not stimulate the growth of tomatoes, but
scientists know little about its effects on the nutritional content of
In the new study, Riccardo Izzo and colleagues grew
cherry tomatoes in both freshwater and in a dilute solution of 12
percent seawater. They found that ripe tomatoes grown in the salty
water showed higher levels of vitamin C, vitamin E, dihydrolipoic acid,
and chlorogenic acid. All of these substances are antioxidants that
appear to fight heart disease, cancer, aging, and other conditions.
Using saltwater to irrigate tomato crops also appears to be a
promising alternative to freshwater irrigation, especially in the wake
of water shortages in some parts of the world, the researchers note. -
Scientific instrument makers, often-hidden
contributors to great scientific revolutions of the past, now are
focusing on development of a new generation of the third most common
instrument found in modern chemistry labs, according to an article
scheduled for the April 28 issue of Chemical & Engineering News
(C&EN), ACS�s weekly news magazine.
These so-called �liquid chromatography� machines
rank behind only the laboratory scale and the pH meter as chemistry�s
ubiquitous instrument, Senior Editor Mitch Jacoby notes in the C&EN
cover story. Chemists use chromatography to analyze complex solutions
of chemicals in the search for better medicines, more durable
materials, and in a range of other research.
Instrument makers are responding to a critical need
for faster, more powerful versions of one particular tool, termed high
performance liquid chromatography, or �HPLC,� where the �P� also often
can stand for �pressure,� the article says. Jacoby describes the quest
for new generations of HPLC tools with the ability to separate
chemicals faster and more precisely than ever before. �Extreme� HPLC
instruments already are speeding laboratory work in drug companies and
other settings, with even better instruments on the horizon, the
A team of University of Chicago scientists has shown how two proteins locate and repair damaged genetic material inside cells.
Nanotubes grown straight in large numbers
Duke University chemists have found a way to grow long, straight cylinders only a few atoms thick in very large numbers, removing a major roadblock in the pursuit of nano-scale electronics.
An unusual regulatory mechanism in the formation of contact sites between nerve cells.
ACS News (open access articles):
Silicon nanotubes for hydrogen storage in fuel
Researchers report hydrogen
storage by silicon nanotubes exceeds that of their carbon
couterparts. Silicon could play a large role in the emergence of
"clean" hydrogen fuel cell vehicles.
Image by ORNL
After powering the micro-electronics revolution,
silicon could carve out an important new role in speeding the debut of
ultra-clean fuel cell vehicles powered by hydrogen, researchers in
China suggest. Their calculations show for the first time that silicon
nanotubes can store hydrogen more efficiently than their carbon
nanotube counterparts. The study will appear in the April 24 issue of
ACS� Journal of Physical Chemistry C, a weekly publication.
Dapeng Cao and colleagues note that researchers
have focused on the potential use of carbon nanotubes for storing
hydrogen in fuel cell vehicles for years. Despite nanotubes� great
promise, they have been unable to meet the hydrogen storage goals
proposed by the U.S. Department of Energy for hydrogen fuel cell
vehicles. A more efficient material for hydrogen storage is needed,
In the study, Cao�s group used powerful molecular
modeling tools to compare the hydrogen storage capacities of newly
developed silicon nanotubes to carbon nanotubes. They found that, in
theory, silicon nanotubes can absorb hydrogen molecules more
efficiently than carbon nanotubes under normal fuel cell operating
conditions. The calculations pave the way for tests to determine
whether silicon nanotubes can meet government standards for hydrogen
storage, the scientists note. - MTS
Questioning nuclear power�s ability to forestall
In a new study, scientists
question the sustainability of nuclear power because of
anticipated declines in high-grade uranium ore. Above is
Australia's Ranger uranium mill.
Imageby Gavin M. Mudd
Rising energy and environmental costs may prevent
nuclear power from being a sustainable alternative energy source in
the fight against global warming, according to a study in the April 1
issue of ACS� Environmental Science & Technology, a semi-monthly
In the article, Gavin M. Mudd and Mark Diesendorf
investigate the �eco-efficiency� of mining and milling uranium for use
as fuel in nuclear power plants. Advocates of nuclear power claim it
has the potential to mitigate global warming. Detractors, however,
link it to dangers such as proliferation of nuclear weapons and
problems such as permanent disposal of nuclear waste.
The study points out that supplies of high-grade
uranium ore are declining, which may boost nuclear fuel's
environmental and economic costs, including increases in energy use,
water consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. In addition, newly
discovered uranium deposits may be more difficult to extract in the
future - a further drain on economic and environmental resources.
�The extent of economically recoverable uranium,
although somewhat uncertain, is clearly linked to exploration effort,
technology and economics but is inextricably linked to environmental
costs, such as energy, water, and chemicals consumption, greenhouse
gas emissions and broader social issues,� the authors say. �These
issues are critical to understand in the current debate over nuclear
power, greenhouse gas emissions, and climate change, especially with
respect to ascribing sustainability to such activities as uranium
milling and mining.� - JS
Chemists have discovered how the
rose is able to hold on to water droplets even when upside down.
The finding could lead to new adhesive materials.
Image by public-domain-photos.com
Chemists reproduce the rose�s �petal effect�
The lotus flower is nature�s �slip n� slide,� where
water beads skate along each petal�s surface like liquid metal. Now,
chemists reveal the ying to the lotus� frictionless yang: rose petals.
Chemists have found the physical basis for the rose�s ability to grip
water droplets in place, even when the flower is upside down. In a
study scheduled for the April 15 issue of ACS� Langmuir, a bi-weekly
journal, this newly described �petal effect� could lead to unique new
adhesive materials, coatings and fabrics.
The study of biological microstructures has been an
lively area of research, particularly in the design of biomimetic
materials. But before the petal effect could be replicated in
synthetic materials, an in-depth understanding of the rose�s surface
Lin Feng and colleagues in China provide the first
description of the microscale surface of roses, composed of arrays of
tiny, fleshy projections called micropapillae. The micropapillae form
a seal with water droplets, allowing them to cling to the surface of
the rose petal. Using these new insights, Feng was able to create a
synthetic rose petal surface with same properties.
�The simple duplication of petal surface provides
us not only a theoretical explanation of the phenomenon but also an
inspiration for the preparation of biomimetic polymer films, which
should be of great biological and technological importance,� says Feng.
Langmuir: "Petal Effect: A Superhydrophobic State
with High Adhesive Force."
Demand for improved consumer products drives
growth of key family of chemical ingredients
From running shoes to automobiles with improved
fuel efficiency, the demand for consumer products with better quality
and performance is boosting demand for dyes, adhesives, rust
inhibitors, and other so-called �specialty chemicals,� according to an
article scheduled for the April 21 issue of Chemical & Engineering
News, ACS� weekly newsmagazine. The article presents a snapshot of
this important yet often little-publicized sector of the chemical
Written by Senior Editor Rick Mullin, C&EN�s cover
story notes that specialty chemical-based �additives� enhance paint,
soap, electronics, sneakers and hundreds of other consumer products to
make them perform better and last longer. The development of
innovative new specialty chemicals has evolved into a robust
independent industry, whereas in the past it was a hidden component in
the overall manufacture of other products.
Mullin presents the perspective of various industry
leaders who comment on this diverse, profitable, and ever-expanding
market for chemicals produced in smaller volume than bulk chemicals,
such as petrochemicals made from petroleum. Green chemistry is one
major force behind the growth of the specialty chemical industry,
fostering production of environmentally-friendly materials that
increasingly are used in consumer products.
A new approach is able to create a dramatic improvement in cheap
solar cells now being developed in laboratories.
By using a popcorn-ball design - tiny kernels clumped into much
larger porous spheres - researchers at the University of Washington
are able to manipulate light and more than double the efficiency of
converting solar energy to electricity.
Birth of an Enzyme
Scientists succeed in designing artificial enzymes that also undergo 'evolution in a test tube'.
ACS News (open access articles):
First evidence that blocking key energy protein
kills cancer cells
In a finding that could lead to
more effective anti-cancer medication, scientists exposed breast
cancer cells to a substance that blocks a protein called ATP
synthase. The cancer cells were killed while normal ones were
Image by Hsin-Yi Chang and
Researchers in Taiwan report for the first time
that blocking a key energy-supplying protein kills cancer cells. The
finding, described as the first to test possible medical uses of
so-called ATP-synthase inhibitors, may lead to new and more effective
anti-cancer medications, according to their report, which is scheduled
for the April 4 issue of ACS� monthly Journal of Proteome Research.
In the new study, Hsueh-Fen Juan and colleagues
focused on ATP synthase, a key protein involved in producing the
energy-rich molecules of ATP that power all life processes. For years
researchers thought that the protein existed only in mitochondria,
structures located inside cells that convert nutrients into energy.
Recent studies found high levels of ATP synthase on the surface of
cancer cells, but until now the medical implications went unexplored.
The researchers analyzed tissue samples from breast
cancer patients and found for the first time that the surface of
breast cancer cells contains high levels of ATP synthase. In cell
studies, exposing breast cancer cells to a substance that blocks ATP
synthase killed the cancer cells but did not harm normal cells, the
researchers say. The findings suggest that ATP synthase inhibitors may
represent a new approach for fighting breast cancer and other cancer
types, they say. - MTS
Electric shocks boost plants' production of
commercially useful chemicals
Now for some "shocking" news about plants: Exposing
plants to electricity can boost production of useful plant chemicals
and may provide a cheaper, safer, and more efficient method for
producing medicines, pesticides, and other commercially important
plant-based materials, researchers in Arizona and Oklahoma report.
Their study is scheduled for the April 4 issue of ACS' Biotechnology
Progress, a bi-monthly journal.
Researchers have known for years that plants can
produce a diverse array of substances as part of their natural
response to environmental factors such as microbial infection,
sunlight, and chemical exposure. To boost levels of plant chemicals
for commercial purposes, scientists have often turned to synthetic
chemical additives as well as genetic engineering, which can be
expensive and potentially harmful. A better method is needed,
In the new study, Hans VanEtten and colleagues
studied the effects of electricity on the ability of the pea plant to
produce pisatin, an antifungal substance. They found that exposing pea
plants to certain sub-lethal doses of electric current produced 13
times higher amounts of pisatin than plants that were not exposed to
electricity. The researchers observed similar increases in plant
chemicals produced by a variety of other plants when exposed to
electricity. There were no adverse effects on the plants. - MTS
Scientists report that chemical
signaling between microcapsules can initiate the capsules'
movement, a finding that could assist nanomachines in drug
delivery as well as a host of other applications.
Image by O. Berk Usta
In a finding that could provide controlled motion
in futuristic nanomachines used for drug delivery, fuel cells, and
other applications, researchers in Pennsylvania report that chemical
signaling between synthetic microcapsules can trigger and direct
movement of these capsules. Their study is scheduled for the currrent
isssue of ACS Nano, a monthly journal.
Researchers theorize that synthetic capsules can
communicate with each other by physically shuffling chemical signals
from capsule to capsule, much like passing water through a fireman�s
bucket brigade. Scientists recently suggested that this same signaling
process also appears capable of sending cues to direct cell movement.
In the new study, Anna C. Balazs and colleagues
used computer models to simulate the chemical signaling. They modeled
a porous polymer microcapsule filled with nanonparticles to imitate a
biological cell. When placed next to an empty capsule, nanoparticles
from the filled capsule initiated the motion of the empty capsule,
which in turn caused the movement of the filled �signaling� capsule.
The same locomotion process could be engineered into futuristic
nanomachines to help direct their movement through the body or through
fuel cells, the researchers suggest. - MTS
Debate sharpens over fertilizing the oceans to
control global warming
As millions of people prepare to fertilize their
lawns and gardens this spring, scientists are still in the midst of
intensive hand-wringing over the pros and cons of fertilizing the
world�s oceans in an effort to control global warming, according to an
article scheduled for the March 31 issue of Chemical & Engineering
News, ACS� weekly newsmagazine.
C&EN Associate Editor Rachel A. Petkewich explains
that in theory, ocean fertilization would remove carbon dioxide from
the atmosphere by spurring the growth of tiny marine plants termed
plankton that need CO2 for growth. First proposed years ago, ocean
fertilization has taken on new dimensions now that hundreds of
start-up companies are preparing to offer ocean-fertilization services,
Although fertilization can stimulate the growth of
plankton and draw down atmospheric carbon dioxide, scientists do not
know whether it would be effective in permanently keeping the carbon
dioxide sequestered in the oceans. Environmental groups worry about
safety aspects, and government agencies are concerned about the lack
of laws to regulate ocean fertilization, the article suggests.