The American Chemical Society (ACS) News Service Weekly press package (PressPac) offers information on reports selected from 36 major peer-reviewed journals and Chemical & Engineering News.
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Citing an “alarming” lack of preparedness for terrorist attacks or other incidents involving release of cyanide, researchers in Minnesota are announcing development of potential new antidotes for the deadly poison that can be taken by mouth rather than injection. The study is scheduled for the Dec. 27 issue of ACS’ Journal of Medicinal Chemistry, a bi-weekly publication.
In the study, Herbert Nagasawa and colleagues explain that existing antidotes for cyanide poisoning require a series of intravenous drug injections, making them cumbersome and difficult to administer in incidents in which hundreds or thousands of people are exposed. The nation thus faces an “urgent need” for a fast-acting, easy-to-use treatment that can be administered on a large scale, the researchers say. The new compounds, chemically modified versions of 3-mercaptopyruvate, change cyanide into a nontoxic substance. When given orally to laboratory mice prior to cyanide exposure, the compounds prevented poisoning, they add.
An oral drug that prevents cyanide poisoning is “highly desirable for firefighters and other rescue workers responding to industrial and residential fires where the presence of cyanide in the smoke is life-threatening,” the study states. “The new compounds can be produced in quantity for wide distribution to public health agencies for stockpiling to protect the populace in the event of a major cyanide disaster resulting from an industrial accident or terrorist activity,” the study adds. — MTS
In a finding that defies conventional culinary wisdom, researchers in Italy report that cooking vegetables can preserve or even boost their nutritional value in comparison to their raw counterparts, depending on the cooking method used. Their study is scheduled for the Dec. 26 issue of ACS’ Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, a bi-weekly publication.
Nicoletta Pellegrini and colleagues note that although many people maintain that eating raw vegetables is more nutritious than eating cooked ones, a small but growing number of studies suggest that cooking may actually increase the release of some nutrients. However, scientists are seeking more complete data on the nutritional properties of cooked vegetables, the researchers say.
In the new study, the researchers evaluated the effects of three commonly-used Italian cooking practices — boiling, steaming, and frying — on the nutritional content of carrots, zucchini and broccoli. Boiling and steaming maintained the antioxidant compounds of the vegetables, whereas frying caused a significantly higher loss of antioxidants in comparison to the water-based cooking methods, they say. For broccoli, steaming actually increased its content of glucosinolates, a group of plant compounds touted for their cancer-fighting abilities. The findings suggest that it may be possible to select a cooking method for each vegetable that can best preserve or improve its nutritional quality, the researchers say. — MTS
Journal: Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry
Journal Article: “Effects of Different Cooking Methods on Nutritional and Physicochemical Characteristics of Selected Vegetables”
A 20-year review of scientific research on tobacco and cancer challenges the idea that moist snuff — increasingly popular in the United States — can be a safer substitute for cigarette smoking. The review, by Stephen S. Hecht, is scheduled for the Jan. 1 issue of ACS’ Chemical Research in Toxicology.
The paper, which covers the broad range of research on cancer induced by tobacco, points out that smokeless tobacco, a known cause of oral cancer, is contaminated with levels of cancer-causing nitrosamines that are generally 1,000 times greater than those found in any other consumer product. Despite health warning labels on packages of smokeless tobacco and a ban on electronic advertising, sales of snuff have continued to increase, the paper states.
“In the past several years, a new concept has emerged,” the paper notes. “Responsible members of the tobacco control community support the idea of using ‘low nitrosamine’ moist snuff as a substitute for cigarette smoking. The rationale for this is that moist snuff is demonstrably less carcinogenic in humans, and less toxic in other ways, because it lacks the combustion products.” However, moist snuff products still contain significant levels of carcinogens, and users should stop, perhaps via use of nicotine replacement therapy, rather than switch from one risky product to another, the paper advises. — JS
Researchers in New Jersey report development of a new type of non-stick material whose ability to shed liquids like water from a duck’s back can be turned on or off simply by flipping an electrical switch. The material, called “nanonails,” offers a wide-range of potential applications including contamination-resistant and self-cleaning surfaces, reduced-drag ships, and advanced electrical batteries, they say. Their study is scheduled for the Jan. 1 issue of ACS’ Langmuir, a bi-weekly publication.
For years, researchers sought to develop surfaces that repel virtually any liquid. They’ve created non-stick surfaces that repel water and certain other liquids, but have had little success with repelling common organic liquids such as oils, solvents and detergents. Tom N. Krupenkin and colleagues report that their “nanonails” have all-purpose repellency properties. The nails actually are submicroscopic silicon structures shaped like carpenter’s nails that dramatically enhance a surface’s repellency. However, the surface becomes highly wettable when electricity is applied, allowing liquid to be sucked between the nails. In laboratory demonstrations, the researchers showed that their electronic non-stick surface works effectively using virtually any liquid.
“Nanonails” also show promise for enhancing chemical microreactions, decreasing flow resistance, and facilitating liquid movement for medical diagnostic applications such as lab-on-a-chip technology, they say. — MTS
A unique electron microscope that can help create four-dimensional “movies” of molecules may hold the answers to research questions in a number of fields including chemistry, biology, and physics, according to an article scheduled for the Dec. 24 issue of Chemical & Engineering News, ACS’ weekly newsmagazine.
In the article, C&EN Associate Editor Rachel Petkewich notes that the microscope, located at the California Institute of Technology, is a modified transmission electron microscope interfaced with an ultrafast laser. The ultrafast microscope is the only one capable of capturing four-dimensional pictures of molecules — 3-D structural changes over time — as they form and break apart, the writer states. These reactions occur at extremely fast rates — one billionth of one millionth of a second, or a “femtosecond” — that can’t be seen directly in real-time by other instruments. In 1999, Caltech chemist Ahmed H. Zewail, the lead scientist on the new work, was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his pioneering studies of these ultrafast reactions.
Zewail and his colleagues are now making refinements to their ultrafast microscope and plan to capture a wider variety of images, including the details of whole cells, the writer notes. Caltech is negotiating an agreement with a microscope manufacturer to commercialize the instrument and make it available to other scientists, according to the article.
The American Chemical Society (ACS) Office of Communications is posting a Santa’s sack of gifts for the entertainment and enlightenment of users of iPods and other portable digital audio players. Called “The 12 Days of Holiday Podcasts,” these audio snippets focus on chemistry’s lighter-hearted connections to the holiday season and are based on research from ACS’ suite of 36 peer-reviewed scientific journals. They will be posted daily between Dec. 12 and Dec. 24. The holiday podcasts are part of Science Elements.
The American Chemical Society — the world’s largest scientific society — is a nonprofit organization chartered by the U.S. Congress and a global leader in providing access to chemistry-related research through its multiple databases, peer-reviewed journals and scientific conferences. Its main offices are in Washington, D.C., and Columbus, Ohio.