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ACS News Service Weekly PressPac: Wed Jun 06 16:42:03 EDT 2007

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News Items in this Edition

Scientists eye nanoparticles as glaucoma treatment

Nanoparticles of a material used to polish glass and as a catalyst to remove grime in the walls of self-cleaning ovens shows great promise as a potential treatment for glaucoma, an eye disease that affects millions of people worldwide, new research has found. In a study scheduled for the June 28 issue of ACS’s Journal of Physical Chemistry B, a weekly publication, Sudipta Seal and Sanku Mallik describe early laboratory tests of cerium oxide nanoparticles (nanoceria) as drug delivery vehicles.

Mallik and Seal note that barely 1-3 percent of existing glaucoma medicines penetrate into the eye, whereas experiments by other groups have shown high penetration rates for nanoparticles without undue patient discomfort from scratching. They combined nanoceria with a compound that blocks activity of an enzyme (hCAII) believed to play a central role in glaucoma. That disease involves abnormally high pressure of the fluid inside the eye, which, if left untreated, can result in damage to the optic nerve and vision loss. High pressure occurs, in part, because of a buildup of carbon dioxide inside the eye, and the compound blocks an enzyme that produces carbon dioxide.

“These results are very promising, and more studies will likely evolve into an inhibition of hCAII in living cells and an effective treatment for glaucoma and other diseases,” their report states. “Furthermore, inhibitors for other pathogenic enzymes can be immobilized on the nanoceria and applied to the enzymes. The potential applications for functionalized cerium oxide nanoparticles seem limitless as a potential nontoxic drug delivery tool.”

Better nutritional and safety profiles for genetically modified crops

Scientists in Spain are reporting invention of a new technique for helping to develop better nutritional and safety profiles for the coming generation of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) that may appear on supermarket shelves and dinner tables.

In a study scheduled for the July 1 issue of ACS’ Analytical Chemistry, a semi-monthly journal, Alejandro Cifuentes and colleagues from CSIC (Madrid, Spain) cite intense interest in determining how genetic modifications may affect the chemical composition, nutritional qualities, and safety of GMOs. However, in spite of that interest, researchers had no method for analyzing potential critical changes in the chiral composition of amino acids (the building blocks of proteins) in transgenic crops.

Amino acids can exist in the so-called “L” or “D” form, and their presence can affect nutritional quality and digestibility, the researchers explain. D-amino acids, for instance, appear to be involved with aging and disease in humans. The new report describes development of what the researchers believe to be the first analytical tool for separating and identifying the main L- and D- amino acids in transgenic crops. In addition, they report use of this technique to reveal changes in those amino acids in certain transgenic corn that could be induced by other non-expected modifications in the composition of the investigated GMOs.

Ultralong nanobelts for wiring nanoelectric devices

In the realm of nanotechnology, where sizes are measured in billionths of a meter and one inch packs 25,400,000 nanometers, linking nanoscale units into structures 100 microns long (the width of a human hair) seems like a world-class achievement. Scientists in Illinois now are reporting for the first time the fabrication of “ultralong nanobelts” that are about a millimeter long. Only about 25 of such nanobelts, laid end to end, would equal an inch.

In a report scheduled for the June 20 issue of the Journal of the American Chemical Society, a weekly publication, Ling Zang and colleagues say that the feat will enable easier construction of integrated nanoelectronic devices, which usually require “long” lengths of wire to connect electrodes and other electronic components. Made from an electrically conductive material widely used in certain electronic devices, the nanobelts would be well suited as wires.

The report describes development of a new self-assembly process, in which one form of the material spontaneously links together to form long nanobelts of uniform size. With their length and ability to carry electric current, the nanobelts appear to be ideal for a broad range of electronic applications, the report states.

Milk does not reduce healthful effects of black tea

A nice cup of tea? For millions of tea lovers that means black tea with milk or cream. Some scientists, however, were concerned that milk proteins might combine with the healthful polyphenols, or antioxidants, in tea and prevent the body from using those compounds.

In a report scheduled for the June 13 issue of ACS’ Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, Janet A. M. Kyle and colleagues point out that previous studies on the topic were conflicting, with two concluding that milk decreases antioxidants in tea and the other two finding that milk has no such effect. “Our results suggest that the formation of protein-polyphenol complexes does not compromise the antioxidant potential of the beverage,” the researchers report.

Their finding is based on a clinical trial in which volunteers drank black tea and then had blood samples tested for antioxidant and polyphenolic levels. Black tea proved to be a “rich” source of those healthful compounds, and milk had no adverse effect. The researchers re-emphasize the importance of gathering information about tea preparation and brewing — and not just the number of cups consumed — in future studies on tea and health.

Fake money? Not if you see the twinkle in Alexander Hamilton’s eye

The store clerk hands over a $10 bill with your change, and the paper feels a little odd. Is it is among the $65 million in fake U.S. currency passed worldwide each year? Just squeeze the edges. If Alexander Hamilton’s eyes light up, you’ve got the genuine item.

New security features like that may, indeed, be on the horizon, as the U.S. Treasury Department calls upon materials scientists to help produce a new generation of paper money to thwart counterfeiters, according to an article scheduled for the June 11 issue of Chemical & Engineering News, ACS’ weekly newsmagazine. The article, written by C&EN Senior Editor Sophie L. Rovner, describes a wide range of possible security innovations that could be incorporated into banknotes of the future.

Plastic, for instance, could replace paper for low-denomination banknotes that counterfeiters sometimes bleach and reprint with a higher denomination. Banknotes could become interactive, with security features that respond when squeezed or connected to an electric current. Rovner points out that technology already exists for having Hamilton and others pictured on banknotes verify a banknote’s authenticity with a twinkle of the eye.

Journalists’ Resources

  • General Chemistry Glossary
    The General Chemistry Glossary is an online resource that can help you to find definitions to common—and uncommon—chemical terms.
  • ACS Updates
    Hot research that can be a treasure trove for journalists seeking news and feature topics, or trying to keep current in rapidly-evolving scientific disciplines.

    Forensic Science

    Concise summaries of articles on forensic science published from 2005-2006 in a dozen major journals, courtesy of ACS’ Analytical Chemistry.

    Summaries


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    Emerging Water Contaminants

    Summaries of key research articles on water analysis and emerging contaminants published mainly from 2005-2006.

    Summaries


    Download PDF
  • 60-Second Science: ACS Audio Clips
    Listen to Science news podcasts from the American Chemical Society.
  • News, features, background, sources from ACS National Meeting
    News media resources from the March 25-29 meeting in Chicago include more than 9,000 abstracts of technical presentations and more than 1,000 non-technical summaries in a searchable database, plus press releases, podcasts and other materials. If you are researching or sourcing stories on chemistry-related topics, this resource can be a treasure trove accessible at:
  • Green Goals for the Pharmaceutical Industry
    The ACS Green Chemistry Institute Pharmaceutical Roundtable has developed a list of priority research areas where “green” alternatives to conventional reactions are needed to develop medications with minimal impact on the environment. Their review paper, describes and prioritizes research needs. It can be a valuable resource for journalists writing about green chemistry. Although the paper focuses on pharmaceuticals, it includes reactions and processes used by the broader chemical enterprise.

    Review Paper
  • Summer Features
    Beach sand may harbor disease-causing E. coli bacteria


    Download PDF


    Fireworks displays linked to perchlorate contamination in lakes


    Download PDF

Mark Your Calendars

  • 11th Annual Green Chemistry & Engineering Conference
    This pioneering conference on one of the hottest topics in chemistry will be held June 26-29, 2007 at the Capital Hilton hotel in Washington, DC.
  • 234th ACS National Meeting, August 19-23 Boston, MA
    News media registration is now open for the 234th ACS national meeting, which will be held in Boston, MA on August 19-23, 2007 at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center and more than a dozen hotels across the city. More than 16,000 scientists and others are expected to attend this scientific extravaganza. There will be more than 9,500 presentations on new discoveries in chemistry, health, medicine, energy, environment, food, and other fields. The theme: “Biotechnology for Health and Wellness.”

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.