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What happens when red wine meets red meat? If the rendezvous happens in the stomach, scientists in Israel are reporting, wine’s bounty of healthful chemical compounds may thwart formation of harmful substances released during digestion of fat in the meat. The study, which reinforces the benefits of consuming wine and other foods rich in so-called polyphenols during meals, appears in the June 11 issue of ACS’s bi-weekly Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.
In the study, Joseph Kanner and colleagues point out that scientists attribute wine’s health benefits, including protection against cancer and heart disease, to its high levels of polyphenols, powerful antioxidants found in fruits and vegetables. However, the body does not absorb polyphenols easily, and scientists have been puzzled about how and where these substances exert their beneficial effects.
The researchers found an explanation in experiments with laboratory rats fed either red meat or meat combined with red wine concentrate. Wine concentrate substantially reduced formation of two byproducts of fat digestion, malondialdehyde and hydroperoxide, which are toxic to cells. The researchers say the stomach acts as a “bioreactor” that facilitates the beneficial effects of polyphenols. The polyphenols work not only to prevent generation of cytotoxic compounds, but also as compounds which prevent the absorption of cytotoxic compounds from the gastrointestinal tract into the blood stream. — MTS
Scientists in Spain and Italy have identified a group of proteins in laboratory rats that could help explain two enduring medical mysteries — why women live longer than men and why calorie restriction stands as the only proven method of extending longevity. Their study, which could help scientists understand the biochemical underpinnings of aging, is scheduled for the July 3 issue of ACS’ monthly Journal of Proteome Research.
In the study, Adamo Valle and colleagues point out that women, on average, live years longer than men. Previous studies also have shown that diets extremely low in calories consistently increase maximum life spans in a wide range of animals. Scientists have speculated that the explanation may involve hormones, stress, cardiovascular protection and other factors.
Using lab rats as stand-ins for humans, the researchers found that the livers of both female rats and calorie-restricted rats produced different levels of 27 proteins than male rats or those on a normal diet. The findings suggest that a previously unrecognized set of cellular pathways may be involved in the longevity boost from being female and eating a sparse diet, the study says, suggesting that these insights could lead to new ways of boosting human longevity. — JS
Researchers in Portugal are reporting development of a new type of “microcapsule” filled with perfume and embedded in fabric for production of scented suits, socks, undergarments and other clothing. The same technology can be used in many other applications, such as to mask unpleasant body odors when using textile products. They describe the material, which is also environmentally-friendly, in a report scheduled for the July 2 issue of ACS’ Industrial & Engineering Chemistry Research, a bi-weekly journal.
In the new study, Alirio E. Rodrigues and colleagues point out that microcapsules, or submicroscopic shells, have been used for years to deliver fragrances in commercial products ranging from scratch-and-sniff stickers to the peel-apart fragrance samples found in magazine inserts. But current microcapsules are made using formaldehyde, a known cancer-causing agent that is also an environmental hazard. Safer, more effective materials are needed to extend this scented technology to textiles, the researchers say.
The researchers identified polyurethane-urea, a type of environmentally-friendly plastic that is compatible with fabrics, as a solution. They used the material to prepare microcapsules containing limonene, the familiar scent abundant in lemons and widely-used in perfumes, and applied the capsules onto wool and polyester samples. In laboratory tests, the microcapsules showed good performance in terms of prolonged fragrance production and durability, the researchers say. — MTS
Long-range forecasts of beach bacterial contamination are inching closer to reality because of a new water quality prediction method scheduled for publication in the July 15 issue of the ACS’ Environmental Science & Technology, a semi-monthly journal. “For the first time, this study showed that bacteria concentrations could be forecasted with reasonable accuracy, hastening the day when people will be able to better plan their beach holidays,” the report says.
In the new study, Walter E. Frick and colleagues explain that decisions on whether beaches are safe for swimming, or should be closed due to fecal contamination, are based on testing the water for E. coli. However, existing tests take 24 hours to complete, providing a backward-only look at conditions the previous day. As a result, beaches may be closed unnecessarily when water quality has improved, or open when water quality has declined and disease-causing microorganisms are present.
Building on pioneering modeling studies in the Great Lakes by the U. S. Geological Survey (USGS) and others, the researchers developed “Virtual Beach,” a broadly-applicable software tool for the development of models that predict concentrations of indicators of fecal contamination at beaches. Unique features of Virtual Beach are the ability to evaluate a dynamic modeling approach for using short-term data sets to rapidly develop reliable models, and the use of available weather and marine forecast variables to forecast E. coli levels 24 hours or more in advance.
Evaluations of Virtual Beach were accomplished using data collected by USGS, NOAA and other sources for Huntington Beach on Lake Erie in northeastern Ohio. During the 42-day study, models developed by Virtual Beach correctly forecasted 24 hours in advance eight instances when E. coli levels exceeded safety standards. These results exceeded the accuracy of traditional sampling methods and approximately matched the accuracy of nowcasting (real-time predictions), according to the researchers. — DD
Journal: Environmental Science & Technology
Journal Article: “Nowcasting and Forecasting Concentrations of Biological Contaminants at Beaches: A Feasibility and Case Study”
From the rockets’ red glare to bombs bursting in air, researchers are developing more environmentally friendly fireworks and flares to light up the night sky while minimizing potential health risks, according to an article scheduled for the June 30 issue of Chemical & Engineering News. Some eco-friendly fireworks may soon appear at a Fourth of July display or rock concert near you.
In the C&EN cover story, Associate Editor Bethany Halford points out that fireworks, flares and other so-called pyrotechnics commonly include potassium perchlorate to speed up the fuel-burning process. But some studies have linked perchlorate, which can accumulate in the soil, air and water, to thyroid damage. Pyrotechnics also contain color-producing heavy metals, such as barium and copper, which have also been linked to toxic effects.
Researchers recently developed new pyrotechnic formulas that replace perchlorate with nitrogen-rich materials or nitrocellulose that burn cleaner and produce less smoke. At the same time, these nitrogen-rich formulas also use fewer color-producing chemicals, dramatically cutting down on the amount of heavy metals used and lowering their potentially toxic effects. Some of these fireworks are already being used at circuses, rock concerts, and other events. The big challenge in developing these “eco-friendly” pyrotechnics is making them as cost-effective as conventional fireworks while maintaining their dazzle and glow, the article states.
One of 2008’s largest and most important scientific conferences — the 236th National Meeting and Exposition of the American Chemical Society—will be held August 17-21, 2008 in Philadelphia, PA. At least 12,000 scientists and others are expected for the event, which will include more than 8,000 reports on new discoveries in chemistry. The multi-disciplinary theme is Chemistry for Health: Catalyzing Transitional Research. Stay tuned for information on registration, housing, press releases, and onsite press briefings that will be available via the Internet, press releases, chat room sessions, and more from ACS’ 235th National Meeting.
The 2007 ACS annual report, Our Science, Our Lives, Our Stories, can be a valuable resource for journalists trying to keep pace with chemistry and the multiple fields of science that involve chemistry. The report features ACS members describing in their own words why they became chemists, what they find rewarding about their work and how the transforming power of chemistry helps address mounting global problems and improves people’s lives. Some are humorous, some are poignant. All of them are compelling.
Pfizer’s deep-tank fermentation — a revolutionary process that enabled mass production of penicillin for use in World War II — was designated a National Historic Chemical Landmark by the American Chemical Society (ACS) in a special ceremony in Brooklyn, NY on June 12. The process ushered in the era of antibiotics and represented a turning point in modern medicine. After World War II, Pfizer applied its deep-tank fermentation to manufacture the antibiotics streptomycin and Terramycin®, which proved effective against a wide range of deadly bacteria. (Read press release.)
This quarterly ACS magazine for high school chemistry students, teachers, and others explains the chemistry that underpins everyday life in a lively, understandable fashion. ChemMatters is available at www.acs.org/chemmatters. You can also receive the most recent issues by contacting the editor, Pat Pages, at: 202-872-6164 or email@example.com.
Don’t miss this special series of ACS podcasts on some of the 21st Century’s most daunting challenges, and how cutting-edge research in chemistry matters in the quest for solutions. This sweeping panorama of challenges includes topics such as providing a hungry, thirsty world with ample supplies of safe food and clean water; developing alternatives to petroleum to fuel the global economy; preserving the environment and assuring a sustainable future for our children; and improving human health. An ongoing saga of chemistry for life — chemistry that truly matters — Global Challenges debuts June 25 with new episodes through December. Subscribe at iTunes or listen and access other resources at the ACS Web site www.acs.org/GlobalChallenges.
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Journal: Chemical & Engineering News
Journal Article: “Pyrotechnics for the Planet”