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Chemistry News Archive December 2008

Chemistry News December 2008

News of the year 2008 in the fields of chemistry and chemistry-related topics like biochemistry, nantechnology, medicinal chemistry etc.

Main focus: 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!




Electroactive photonic crystal

All the Colors of the Rainbow

Porous polymer gel as electroactive photonic crystal for color displays [Image credit: Wiley].


3,3�-Dihydroxyisorenieratin Synthese

Radical Scavengers in Red Smear Cheeses

Natural carotenoid with unusual structure protects against oxidative damage.

[Image credit: Wiley]


Aqueous iron(II) tris(bipyridine)

Molecules in the spotlight

New technique allows real-time observation of molecules during chemical reactions.

Image credit: Paul Scherrer Institute, Switzerland


Zinc oxide as semiconductor

An old dream has been fulfilled:

Zinc oxide as semiconductor.


Research scientists at the Ruhr-University in Bochum were able to show that hydrogen atoms always result in n-doping. They could reversibly dope zinc oxide substrates using hydrogen and then eliminate the hydrogen by heating.

[Image credit: Ruhr-University]


Pioneering space station experiment keeps reactions in suspense
A revolutionary container-less chemical reactor has been installed on the International Space Station.


UCLA researchers create polymer solar cells with higher efficiency levels
Researchers described the design and synthesis of a new polymer, or plastic, for use in solar cells that has significantly greater sunlight absorption and conversion capabilities than previous polymers.


Imidazolium Salts

New uses for imidazolium salts in medicine and alternative energy

Powerful antioxidant properties to fight diseases, efficient catalyst for converting biofuels.


Fast molecular rearrangements hold key to plastic's toughness
Plastics are everywhere in our modern world, largely due to properties that render the materials tough and durable, but lightweight and easily workable. One of their most useful qualities, however - the ability to bend rather than break when put under stress - is also one of the most puzzling.


Physics - Fundamental Research


Attosecond pulse

Attosecond flashes from solid-density relativistic plasmas

MPQ scientists have demonstrated the generation of attosecond flashes with unprecedented intensity.

[Image by MPQ]


Investigating new materials with ultracold atoms
Researchers use optical lattices as a construction kit; Juelich supercomputer confirms model.


Dancing atoms now understood
Scientists crack secret of unusual magnetic resonance, key to enhanced MRIs.


Neutron researchers discover widely sought property in magnetic semiconductor
Researchers working at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have demonstrated for the first time the existence of a key magnetic - as opposed to electronic - property of specially built semiconductor devices.


Chemistry & Biology


Scientists Reveal Structure of New Botulism Nerve Toxin Subtype
Findings may explain faster action with implications for toxicity and therapeutic use.


E. coli engineered to produce important class of antibiotic, anti-cancer drugs
Researchers have taken a major step forward in the field of metabolic engineering, successfully using the bacterium Escherichia coli to synthesize a class of natural products known bacterial aromatic polyketides, which include important antibiotic and anticancer drugs.


A simple fusion to jump-start evolution
Nonenzymatic RNA ligation in water.


New label-free method tracks molecules and drugs in live cells
Simulated Raman scattering microscopy offers high sensitivity in real-time imaging.


CSHL scientists discover new way in which ubiquitin modifies transcriptional machinery to regulate gene activity
In yeast, Asr1 �glues� ubiquitin to specific spots in the enzyme that copies DNA into RNA.


DNA-snipping protein HincII

Just a little squeeze lets proteins assess DNA

Early Interrogation and Recognition of DNA Sequence by Indirect Readout.



Crystals of the DNA-snipping protein HincII taken under a microscope. The crystals are iridescent because they refract light. The longest crystal is about one millimeter.

[Image credit: Nancy C. Horton, the University of Arizona]


Work with fungus uncovering keys to DNA methylation
Eric Selker's lab reports progress on biochemical communications among proteins involved in gene silencing.


Scientists at CSHL uncover new RNA processing mechanism and a new class of small RNAs
Research sheds light on possible functions of abundant 'noncoding' RNA molecules.



Chemist Finds Gene That Enables Gray Mold to Kill Plant Cells

Brown University chemist David Cane and international colleagues have identified the genetic sequence behind gray mold's killer arsenal. In an ACS Chemical Biology paper, the scientists report that deletion of a single, mastermind gene from gray mold's DNA shuts down its ability to produce toxins that kill cells in more than 200 species of garden and ornamental plants.


Superglue from the sea
Synthetic sea worm glue may mend shattered knee, face bones.


Chemistry & Medicine


Fluorescent Grooves
Fingerprints from the scene of the crime will soon reveal drug abuse.


Hope for Alzheimer�s Patients?
Dipeptide blocks the formation of toxic amyloid �-peptide aggregates in mice.


Sulfurous ping-pong in the urinary tract
Researchers studying transfer processes among sulfurylated molecules discovered a protein, sulfotransferase, whose function is known but which exhibits a previously unknown structure.


MIT nanotubes sniff out cancer agents in living cells
Chemical engineers use carbon nanotubes to monitor chemotherapy, detect toxins at the single-molecule level.


Chemistry & Materials


Magnetic micro-stirrer

Ship in a bottle kit on a microchip

Remote controlled with a magnetic field, aggregates of plastic particles on a microchip function like stirrers and pumps.

[Image by Sabri Rahmouni/University of Stuttgart]


Scientists create tough ceramic that mimics mother of pearl
Researchers have mimicked the structure of mother of pearl to create what may well be the toughest ceramic ever produced.


Chemistry & Nanotechnology


Study on cytotoxicity of carbon nanotubes
Owing to the novel properties of carbon nanotubes, a series of problems associated with in vitro toxicity assessments of carbon nanotubes have appeared in a lot of literature. In order to properly evaluate the potential risk to human health, the cell toxicity assay of carbon nanotubes can not be conducted by traditional methods employed in common toxicology.


Method sorts out double-walled carbon nanotube problem
Nature Nanotechnology: Processing and properties of highly enriched double-wall carbon nanotubes.


Researchers coax bright white light from unexpected source
Duke University and United States Army scientists have found that a cheap and nontoxic sunburn and diaper rash preventative can be made to produce brilliant light best suited to the human eye.


Pitt Researchers Create Nontoxic Clean-up Method for Common, Potentially Toxic Nano Materials
Horseradish enzyme biodegrades carbon nanotubes increasingly used in products, from electronics to plastics.


Cobalt Nanoclusters

New Hybrid Nanostructures Detect Nanoscale Magnetism

Research could pave way for new data storage devices, drug delivery systems.

Photo: A scanning electron micrograph of cobalt nanoclusters embedded in multi-walled carbon nanotubes. Researchers at Rensselaer used these new hybrid structures, the first of their kind, to detect magnetism at the nanoscale.

[Credit: Saikat Talapatra/Caterina Soldano].


'Strained' quantum dots show new optical properties
Tuning the optical and electronic properties of colloidal nanocrystals by lattice strain.


Chemistry & Environment


Tiny knights in shining armor
Bacteria detoxify deadly seawater.


Chemistry & Geology


Sweet molecule could lead us to alien life
Scientists have detected an organic sugar molecule that is directly linked to the origin of life, in a region of our galaxy where habitable planets could exist.


Oceans: Elements and Evolution
ASU professor 'follows the elements' to understand evolution in ancient oceans.


ACS News (open access articles):



Nothing to sneeze at: Real-time pollen forecasts

Marmelade Fly

Scientists have identified chemical structures in pollen - shown above covering the face and legs of a Marmelade fly- that could help provide a real-time pollen detection and warning system to help allergy sufferers.

Image by Andr� Karwath

Researchers in Germany are reporting an advance toward development of technology that could make life easier for millions of people allergic to plant pollen. It could underpin the first automated, real-time systems for identifying specific kinds of allergy-inducing plant pollen circulating in the air. Their study is in the current issue of ACS' Analytical Chemistry, a semi-monthly journal.

In the study, Janina Kneipp and colleagues explain that current pollen counts and allergy warnings are based on visual identification of the specific kind of pollen by examining pollen grains under a microscope. That procedure takes time, making it impossible for allergy-sufferers to know the kinds of pollen that are airborne on an hour-by-hour basis.

The researchers describe using a common laboratory procedure to identify chemical structures in pollen grains that distinguish oak and maple pollen, for instance, from maple and other kinds. They obtained these chemical "signatures" for 15 different kinds of tree pollen with the procedure, termed Raman spectroscopy. The researchers say that it could provide the basis for a real-time pollen detection and warning system to help allergy sufferers. - MTS

Analytical Chemistry: "Chemical Characterization and Classification of Pollen".


Waste coffee grounds offer new source of biodiesel fuel

Researchers in Nevada are reporting that waste coffee grounds can provide a cheap, abundant, and environmentally friendly source of biodiesel fuel for powering cars and trucks. Their study appears in the current online issue of ACS' Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, a bi-weekly publication.

In the new study, Mano Misra, Susanta Mohapatra, and Narasimharao Kondamudi note that the major barrier to wider use of biodiesel fuel is lack of a low-cost, high quality source, or feedstock, for producing that new energy source. Spent coffee grounds contain between 11 and 20 percent oil by weight. That's about as much as traditional biodiesel feedstocks such as rapeseed, palm, and soybean oil.

Growers produce more than 16 billion pounds of coffee around the world each year. The used or "spent" grounds remaining from production of espresso, cappuccino, and plain old-fashioned cups of java, often wind up in the trash or find use as soil conditioner. The scientists estimated, however, that spent coffee grounds can potentially add 340 million gallons of biodiesel to the world's fuel supply.

To verify it, the scientists collected spent coffee grounds from a multinational coffeehouse chain and separated the oil. They then used an inexpensive process to convert 100 percent of the oil into biodiesel.

The resulting coffee-based fuel - which actually smells like java - had a major advantage in being more stable than traditional biodiesel due to coffee's high antioxidant content, the researchers say. Solids left over from the conversion can be converted to ethanol or used as compost, the report notes. The scientists estimate that the process could make a profit of more than $8 million a year in the U.S. alone. They plan to develop a small pilot plant to produce and test the experimental fuel within the next six to eight months. - MTS

Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry: "Spent Coffee Grounds as a Versatile Source of Green Energy".


Better antifreezes to preserve donor organs for transplantation

Chemists have developed a method to better preserve organs for transplantation.

Chemists have developed a method to better preserve organs for transplantation.

Image by The American Chemical Society

Chemists in Canada have developed a new approach for producing more effective medical antifreeze fluids for preserving kidneys, hearts, and other organs donated for transplantation. These next-generation antifreezes can decrease damage to organs caused by ice crystals, and thus prolong the time a donated organ will remain viable prior to transplantation. This could increase the number of available organs for potential recipients. Their study is scheduled for the current issue of the Journal of the American Chemical Society, a weekly publication.

Robert N. Ben and colleagues note that the growth of ice crystals is a major cause of damage to cells, tissues and organs during cryopreservation, which leaves them unusable for transplantation. To address this challenge, the researchers developed synthetic antifreeze materials, called C-linked antifreeze glycoprotein analogues (C-AFGP). These proteins contain a sugar coating and have custom-tailored antifreeze activity.

Now the scientists describe the development of "hydration index" that can be used to more reliably predict how prospective antifreeze materials will behave. Their index provides a clearer picture of how water molecules interact with the sugar component (as well as native AFGP) and affect their chemical behavior. This is a key to understanding their ability to resist the formation of ice crystals when chilled. - MTS

Journal of the American Chemical Society: "Hydration Index � A Better Parameter for Explaining Small Molecule Hydration in Inhibition of Ice Recrystallization".


Producing a more effective oral form of a powerful disease-fighting protein

Scientists in Japan are reporting an advance toward using a natural disease-fighting protein in pills or syrups that patients can take by mouth rather than injection. Their study is the first to show that coating the protein with a polymer material already in wide medical use can increase its absorption by the intestine. The research appears in the current issue of ACS' Bioconjugate Chemistry, a monthly journal.

In the study, Atsushi Sato and colleagues note that the protein - lactoferrin (LF) - occurs in saliva, breast milk and other body fluids, where it has powerful effects in fighting bacteria, viruses, and inflammation. LF is sparking excitement as a potential treatment for cancer, gangrene, hepatitis, and a host of other diseases. Although LF is available as a dietary supplement and as an experimental oral drug, acid in the stomach quickly destroys existing forms of LF, reducing the protein's effects.

The scientists found that laboratory rats absorbed 10 times more LF if the protein is coated with the polymer, called polyethylene glycol (PEG). In addition, the coated PEG remained active in the bloodstream longer than the uncoated protein. The scientists also showed that the coated drug retained most of its disease-fighting potency, including antibacterial, antioxidative and anti-inflammatory activity, compared to the uncoated drug. The PEG-coating technique not only is a promising advance toward making lactoferrin an oral drug, but also may be used to convert other healthful food proteins into useful drugs, the researchers note. - MTS

Bioconjugate Chemistry: "Development of Poly(ethylene glycol) Conjugated Lactoferrin for Oral Administration".


Protecting the trees of Christmas future

The trees of Christmas future may be safer from an insect pest that makes Ebenezer Scrooge's famous nightmare pale in comparison - killing millions of pine trees, according to an scheduled for the December 22 issue of Chemical & Engineering News, ACS' weekly newsmagazine. That tiny beetle, which is decimating the certain populations of pine trees, has led chemists to develop new, more effective control methods that could help save these economically and environmentally important trees, it added.

In the article, C&EN Associate Editor Rachel Petkewich points out that the mountain pine beetle has killed millions of acres of pine trees. About the size of a grain of rice, the beetles damage trees by boring into bark and depositing their eggs. Dead trees also pose a forest fire risk, the article notes.

Scientists now are fighting back with a combination of chemistry and forestry management techniques. The management techniques involve removing infected trees, diversifying tree species, monitoring beetle populations, and thinning forests in advance of an outbreak. Researchers are also experimenting with chemical protection and control methods using bug-repelling plant hormones and insecticides, according to the article.

Chemical & Engineering News: "Beetle epidemic escalates".


High pesticide levels found in fruit-based drinks in some countries outside U. S.

Elevated levels of pesticides appear in fruit-based soft drinks in many countries

Elevated levels of pesticides appear in fruit-based soft drinks in many countries, scientists report.

Image by Wikipedia Commons

In the first worldwide study of pesticides in fruit-based soft drinks, researchers in Spain are reporting relatively high levels of pesticides in drinks in some countries, especially the United Kingdom and Spain. Drinks sampled from the United States, however, had relatively low levels, the researchers note. Their study is scheduled for the December 15 issue of ACS' Analytical Chemistry, a semi-monthly journal.

In the report, Antonio Molina-D�az, Amadeo Fern�ndez-Alba and colleagues note that strict regulations limit pesticide levels in fresh fruits, vegetables, and drinking water. However, regulators have paid less attention to the presence of pesticides in soft drinks made from fruits. Scientists are increasingly concerned about the possible impact of pesticide-containing fruit juices on the health of children, who tend to consume large amounts of such soft drinks, they add.

The scientists used a sophisticated lab test to measure levels of a wide range of common pesticides in more than 100 fruit-based soft drink samples from 15 different countries. They tested for pesticides such as carbendazim, thiabendazole, and imazalil, and malathion, which are applied to crops after harvest and can remain on fruits and vegetables during processing. They found relatively large concentrations of pesticides, in the micrograms per liter range, in most of the samples analyzed. Samples from Spain and the U. K. had the highest levels of pesticides, while samples from the U. S. and Russia were among the lowest. "Steps should be taken toward the removal of pesticides in these beverages by changing the way they are manufactured," the researchers conclude. - MTS

Analytical Chemistry: "Determination of Pesticide Residues in Fruit-Based Soft Drinks".


Advance in the battle against "gray mold"

Scientists have identified the cluster of genes responsible for "gray mold," a common, devestating plant disease.

Scientists have identified the cluster of genes responsible for "gray mold," a common, devestating plant disease.

Credit: American Chemical Society

Scientists are reporting identification of the cluster of genes responsible for the toxins produced by "gray mold," a devastating plant disease that kills almost 200 different food and ornamental plants including tomatoes, strawberries and roses. Their findings could lead to genetically engineered crops or new fungicides to fight this disease, which frustrates backyard gardeners and commercial farmers alike, the researchers say. The study is in the current online issue issue of ACS Chemical Biology, a monthly journal.

David Cane, Isidro Collado, Muriel Viaud and colleagues note that gray mold is so-named because it covers infected plants with fuzzy gray spores that can ultimately kill plants. A fungus named Botrytis cinerea causes the disease. Studies show that the fungus kills by producing two main plant toxins, botrydial and botcinic acid. Conventional fungicides are largely ineffective in destroying the fungus, which can easily spread to other plants.

In the new study, the scientists describe the identification of five genes involved in producing the enzymes that are responsible for making the toxins produced by the fungus. In lab studies, the researchers showed that inactivating one of the genes, called BcBOT2, blocked the gene cluster's ability to make the botrydial toxin. The finding could help the development of new, more effective fungicides or other resistance strategies, that target the ability of B. cinerea to make botrydial, the researchers suggest. - MTS

ACS Chemical Biology: "Sesquiterpene Synthase from the Botrydial Biosynthetic Gene Cluster of the Phytopathogen Botrytis cinerea".


Tiny delivery system with a big impact on cancer cells

A new group of nanocomposite particles

A new group of nanocomposite particles could lead to improved anti-cancer drugs, researchers report.

Credit: Hari S. Muddana

Researchers in Pennsylvania are reporting for the first time that nanoparticles 1/5,000 the diameter of a human hair encapsulating an experimental anticancer agent, kill human melanoma and drug-resistant breast cancer cells growing in laboratory cultures. The discovery could lead to the development of a new generation of anti-cancer drugs that are safer and more effective than conventional chemotherapy agents, the scientists suggest. The research is scheduled for the Dec. 10 issue of ACS' Nano Letters, a monthly journal.

In the new study, Mark Kester, James Adair and colleagues at Penn State's Hershey Medical Center and University Park campus point out that certain nanoparticles have shown promise as drug delivery vehicles. However, many of these particles will not dissolve in body fluids and are toxic to cells, making them unsuitable for drug delivery in humans. Although promising as an anti-cancer agent, ceramide also is insoluble in the blood stream making delivery to cancer cells difficult.

The scientists report a potential solution with development of calcium phosphate nanocomposite particles (CPNPs). The particles are soluble and with ceramide encapsulated with the calcium phosphate, effectively make ceramide soluble. With ceramide encapsulated inside, the CPNPs killed 95 percent of human melanoma cells and was "highly effective" against human breast cancer cells that are normally resistant to anticancer drugs, the researchers say.

Penn State Research Foundation has licensed the calcium phosphate nanocomposite particle technology known as "NanoJackets" to Keystone Nano, Inc. MK and JA are CMO and CSO, respectively. - MTS

Nano Letters: "Calcium Phosphate Nanocomposite Particles for In Vitro Imaging and Encapsulated Chemotherapeutic Drug Delivery to Cancer Cells".


Tracking community-wide drug use by testing water at sewage treatment plants

Scientists in Oregon and Washington State are reporting the development and successful testing of a new method for determining the extent of illicit drug use in entire communities from water flushed down toilets that enters municipal wastewater treatment plants. The technique may be an effective tool for comparing drug use in different regions of the United States and the world, they note in a study is scheduled for the December 15 issue of ACS' Environmental Science & Technology, a semi-monthly journal.

In the study, Aurea C. Chiaia and colleagues note that the new test eliminates the need for sample preparation - saving time and money and decreasing the risk of sample contamination. They proved the test's effectiveness by measured levels of illegal drugs like methamphetamine and legal drugs like prescription painkillers in wastewater from seven U.S. municipalities. The research team also tested the levels of 'urine indicators' such as creatinine, a metabolic byproduct that can be used as an indicator of drug use.

The scientists determined the 'index loads' of the different drugs - the amount of drug per person per day - based on estimates of the population served by each wastewater facility. These calculated index loads generally reflect known illegal drug use patterns in the US and worldwide. The loads for methamphetamine in western and southern U.S. were much larger than previous reports from Europe, for example. The authors proposed that urine indicator compounds like creatinine could be used in place of population estimates - which can fluctuate and be unreliable - to determine more accurate community-level drug index loads, which can then be compared between municipalities. - KSD

Environmental Science & Technology: "Eliminating Solid Phase Extraction with Large-Volume Injection LC/MS/MS: Analysis of Illicit and Legal Drugs and Human Urine Indicators in US Wastewaters".


Healthy make-over: Natural colors replace artificial colorants in foods, beverages

In the future, Santa may be leaving candy canes and nibbling holiday cookies that are a little duller, but better for your health. The reason? Food color manufacturers are going natural. Food manufacturers worldwide are increasingly turning to more natural colors in an effort to replace potentially harmful, though often dazzling, artificial colorings now used in many foods and beverages. An article on this topic is scheduled for the December 15 issue of Chemical & Engineering News, ACS' weekly newsmagazine.

In the article, C&EN senior editor Melody Voith points out that some artificial colors, such as Red #40, have been linked to hyperactivity in children as well as other health problems. Such health concerns have spurred colorant phase-outs and new regulations, causing manufacturers to search for natural alternatives. Food coloring now represents a $1.2 billion global market, with natural colors capturing 31 percent of the food market but growing at a rate of 5 percent yearly, according to the article.

The switch is not easy. Food manufacturers are finding it difficult to substitute synthetic colors with natural ones that preserve the exact look and appeal of the original product, whose quality consumers often judge by appearance. That's why researchers are now experimenting with a wide range of natural colorants derived from dark-colored vegetables in an effort to closely match their artificial counterparts. Ingredient makers are looking, for example, to red cabbage and purple sweet potatoes to provide new natural sources of red, purple, and blue, the article notes.

Chemical & Engineering News: "The effort to eliminate synthetics gives chemists the blues".


Advance toward early diagnosis of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease

Biomarker for the detection of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease

Researchers have identified a "biomarker" that could lead to early detection of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

Credit: National Heart Lung and Blood Institute

Researchers in Finland are reporting identification of the first potential "biomarker" that could be used in development of a sputum test for early detection of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). That condition, which causes severe difficulty in breathing - most often in cigarette smokers - affects 12 million people in the United States.

In an article scheduled for the December 5 issue of ACS' Journal of Proteome Research, a monthly publication, Vuokko L. Kinnula and colleagues point out that no disease marker for COPD currently exists, despite extensive efforts by scientists to find one. Past research pointed to a prime candidate - surfactant protein A (SP-A), which has a major role in fighting infections and inflammation in the lung.

The scientists compared levels of a variety of proteins obtained from the lung tissues of healthy individuals, patients with COPD, and those with pulmonary fibrosis. They found that the lungs of COPD patients contained elevated levels of SP-A. The scientists also found elevated levels of SP-A in the sputum samples of COPD patients. "This suggests that SP-A might represent a helpful biomarker in the early detection of COPD and other related disorders," the article notes. - MTS

Journal of Proteome Research: "Proteomics of Human Lung Tissue Identifies Surfactant Protein A as a Marker of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease".


Clothing with a brain: "Smart fabrics" that monitor health


Researchers have developed a cost-effective procedure of making disease-detecting wearable fabrics, "smart fabrics." Above are microscopic images of the E-fibers.

Credit: American Chemical Society

Researchers in United States and China are reporting progress toward a simple, low-cost method to make "smart fabrics," electronic textiles capable of detecting diseases, monitoring heart rates, and other vital signs. A report on these straight-out-of-science-fiction-fibers, made of carbon nanotubes, is scheduled for the December 10 issue of ACS' Nano Letters, a monthly publication.

In the new study, Nicholas A. Kotov, Chuanlai Xu, and colleagues point out that electronic textiles, or E-textiles, already are a reality. However, the current materials are too bulky, rigid, and complex for practical use. Fabric makers need simpler, more flexible materials to make E-fibers practical for future applications, they say.

The scientists describe development of cotton fibers coated with electrolytes and carbon nanotubes (CNT) - thin filaments 1/50,000 the width of a single human hair. The fibers are soft, flexible, and capable of transmitting electricity when woven into fabrics. In laboratory tests, the researchers showed that the new E-fibers could light up a simple light-emitting diode when connected to a battery. When coated with certain antibodies, the fibers detected the presence of albumin, a key protein in blood - a function that could be used to detect bleeding in wounded soldiers. The fabrics could also help monitor diseases and vital signs, they say. - MTS

Nano Letters: "Smart Electronic Yarns and Wearable Fabrics for Human Biomonitoring made by Carbon Nanotube Coating with Polyelectrolytes".


Waste peel from pomegranate juice factories makes healthy cattle feed

Pomegranate peels

Feed supplemented with pomegranate peels could usher in healthier, antioxidant-rich meat, scientists report.

Credit: Zalman Henkin

Pomegranate peel left over from production of the juice renowned for its potential health benefits can make a nutritious feed supplement for cattle, researchers in Israel report in an article in the November 12 issue of ACS' biweekly Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. The peel packs some of the weight-boosting and health-enhancing effects of antibiotics and hormones without the detrimental effects, and researchers say it may yield meat with higher levels of beneficial antioxidants.

In the new study, Ariel Shabtay and colleagues note that consumption of pomegranate products is increasing amid reports that the fruit may help fight cancer, infections, and other diseases in humans due to its high levels of antioxidants. Recent studies also have shown that boosting antioxidant levels in the diet of cattle may help improve their health. Those findings seemed to make pomegranate peel, a waste product of the pomegranate industry with higher antioxidant levels than the juice itself, an attractive candidate as a nutritional supplement for cattle feed.

To find out, the scientists fed calves either normal cattle feed or feed supplemented with pomegranate peels. After eight weeks, the calves supplemented with pomegranate had higher blood levels of alpha-tocopherol, a form of vitamin E that may help retain nutrients and extend the shelf life of meat by preventing spoilage. The pomegranate-fed animals gained more weight than the animals on standard feed. - MTS

Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry: "Nutritive and Antioxidative Potential of Fresh and Stored Pomegranate Industrial Byproduct as a Novel Beef Cattle Feed".


New "wipes" for better decontamination of chemical warfare agents and toxic chemicals

Scientists in Texas, California, and Maryland are reporting development of high-tech "wipes" that are capable of quickly decontaminating people and equipment exposed to a broad range of military and industrial chemicals, including the deadly blister agent known as "mustard." The next generation wipes, which are a major step toward a universal personal decontamination system for nearly any toxic or hazardous chemical, could help save the lives of soldiers and civilians. Their work will be described in an article scheduled for online publication today in ACS' Industrial & Engineering Chemistry Research, a bi-weekly journal.

Seshadri Ramkumar and colleagues note that the military long has used powders and liquids to decontaminate soldiers and equipment exposed to chemical warfare agents. But powders, such as activated carbon, can disperse into the air and damage the lungs, while water-based and reactive decontamination liquids target only a limited set of chemicals or can damage electronic equipment. Better materials are needed, the scientists say.

In the new study, the scientists describe development of a new fabric-based "wipe" composed of a layer of activated carbon sandwiched between layers of absorbent fibers. The researchers evaluated the ability of the new fabric to absorb and adsorb sulfur mustard, a toxic liquid that causes skin blistering, and compared the results to activated carbon particles and a standard military decontamination kit that uses powdered carbon mixed with other materials. The wipes were better than particulate carbon alone and as effective as the military decontamination kit, the researchers say, noting that the flexible and non-particulate wipes show promise for decontaminating a wide range of surfaces and toxic or hazardous chemicals. - MTS

Industrial & Engineering Chemistry Research: "Next Generation Non-particulate Dry Nonwoven Pad for Chemical Warfare Agent Decontamination".


Updated standards to reduce metal contaminants in prescription drugs

Prescription medicines in the United States could soon have lower levels of potentially harmful metals, as the organization that sets drug standards develops new limits for impurities like mercury, arsenic, and lead, according to an article scheduled for the December 8 issue of Chemical & Engineering News, ACS' weekly newsmagazine.

In the article, C&EN Associate Editor Jyllian Kemsley notes that researchers have known for years that potentially toxic metals can wind up in pharmaceutical ingredients through raw materials, catalysts, equipment, and other sources. But the testing method currently prescribed by the U.S. Pharmacopeia (USP), the nonprofit organization that sets standards for the pharmaceutical industry, has not kept pace with that new knowledge. That method involves a 100-year-old test that is time-consuming, difficult to interpret, and generally not quantitative, according to the article.

USP now is developing new standards and testing methods that will be finished in 2010 and implemented over a span of years. USP will require drug makers to use improved methods and instruments to detect metal contaminants.

Chemical & Engineering News: "Detecting metals in drugs".

Chemistry news archive 2008 - ordered by month














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