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ACS News Service Weekly PressPac: Wed Jun 10 16:42:03 EDT 2009

Note to Journalists and Other Viewers

Here is the latest American Chemical Society (ACS) Office of Public Affairs Weekly PressPac with news from ACS’ 34 peer-reviewed journals and Chemical & Engineering News.

This information is intended for your personal use in news gathering and reporting and should not be distributed to others. Anyone using advance ACS Office of Public Affairs Weekly PressPac information for stocks or securities dealing may be guilty of insider trading under the federal Securities Exchange Act of 1934.

Please cite the individual journal, or the American Chemical Society, as the source of this information.

News Items in this Edition

New tests: Marijuana damages DNA and may cause cancer

Using a highly sensitive new test, scientists in Europe are reporting “convincing evidence” that marijuana smoke damages the genetic material DNA in ways that could increase the risk of cancer. Their study is scheduled for the June 15 issue of ACS’ Chemical Research in Toxicology, a monthly journal.

Rajinder Singh and colleagues note that toxic substances in tobacco smoke can damage DNA and increase the risk of lung and other cancers. However, there has been uncertainty over whether marijuana smoke has the same effect. Scientists are especially concerned about the toxicity of acetaldehyde, present in both tobacco and marijuana. However, it has been difficult to measure DNA damage from acetaldehyde with conventional tests.

The scientists describe development and use of a modified mass spectrometry method that showed clear indications that marijuana smoke damages DNA. “In conclusion, these results provide evidence for the DNA damaging potential of cannabis [marijuana] smoke, implying that the consumption of cannabis cigarettes may be detrimental to human health with the possibility to initiate cancer development,” the article states. “The data obtained from this study suggesting the DNA damaging potential of cannabis smoke highlight the need for stringent regulation of the consumption of cannabis cigarettes, thus limiting the development of adverse health effects such as cancer.”

Toward an “electronic nose” to sniff out kidney disease in exhaled breath

Scientists in Israel have identified the key substances in exhaled breath associated with healthy and diseased kidneys — raising expectations, they say, for development of long-sought diagnostic and screening tests that literally sniff out chronic renal failure (CRF) in its earliest and most treatable stages. Their report is in the current issue of ACS Nano, a monthly journal.

In the new study, Hossam Haick and colleagues point out that the blood and urine tests now used to diagnose CRF can be inaccurate and may come out “normal” even when patients have lost 75 percent of their kidney function. The most reliable test, a kidney biopsy, is invasive and may result in infections and bleeding. Doctors have long hoped for better tests for early detection of kidney disease.

The scientists describe tests of an experimental “electronic nose” on exhaled breath of laboratory rats with no kidney function and normal kidney function. The device identified 27 so-called volatile organic compounds that appear only in the breath of rats with CRF. The results presented in this study raise expectations for future capabilities for diagnosis, detection, and screening various stages of kidney disease,” they said, noting that the tests could detect patients with early disease who could be treated in ways that could slow its progression.

New approach in the quest for lighting’s Holy Grail

Researchers are reporting the first use of a fundamentally new approach in the quest to snare the Holy Grail of the lighting industry: An LED (light-emitting diode) — those ultra-efficient, long-lived light sources — that emits pure white light. The new approach yielded what the scientists describe as the most efficient and stable source of pure white light ever achieved. The advance could speed the development of this next-generation technology for improved lighting of homes, offices, displays, and other applications, they say. Their study appears in the May 29 online issue of the Journal of the American Chemical Society, a weekly publication.

Soo Young Park and colleagues note that white LEDs show promise as a brighter, longer-lasting and more energy-efficient light source than conventional lighting, such as incandescent and fluorescent lights, which they may replace in the future. But scientists have had difficulty producing white LEDs that are suitable for practical use. Existing technologies produce tinted shades of white light, require complex components, and become unstable over time.

The researchers describe development of a new, simpler white LED that is the first to achieve stable white light emissions using a single molecule. Their specially engineered molecule combines two light-emitting materials, one orange and one blue, which together produce white light over the entire visible range. In laboratory studies, the scientists showed that light production from an LED using the new molecule was highly efficient and had excellent color stability and reproducibility, features that make it a practical white light source.

Reengineering a food poisoning microbe to carry medicines and vaccines

Scientists have used genetic engineering to tame one of the most deadly food poisoning microbes and turn it into a potential new way of giving patients medicine and vaccines in pills rather than injections. The study is in the current issue of ACS’ Molecular Pharmaceutics, a bi-monthly journal.

Colin Pouton and colleagues note that patients by far prefer pills and capsules to the discomfort and inconvenience of injections. But many medicines and vaccines cannot be given by mouth because they would be destroyed by stomach acid without being absorbed into the bloodstream. One promising approach is to use live bacteria, which can survive those harsh conditions and pass easily from the GI tract into the blood.

The scientists describe development of a new strain of Listeria monocytogenes, bacteria that normally cause food poisoning, but which have been genetically engineered to be harmless. Instead of causing disease, the new microbes can be loaded with medicine or vaccine, and deliver that beneficial cargo by “infecting” cells. After entering cells, the bacteria burst and die, leading to Pouton’s term “suicidal strain” for the microbes. The researchers demonstrated that engineered bacteria containing a test protein could successfully penetrate a group of intestinal cells grown in the lab and deliver the protein inside the cells while leaving the cells unharmed. The findings suggest that the approach could potentially work in humans, the researchers say.

Solar energy technology gets more visually-appealing makeover

Those unsightly rooftop solar panels — hailed as energy savers but often frowned upon as neighborhood eyesores —may soon become a thing of the past, according to an article scheduled for the June 15 issue of Chemical & Engineering News, ACS’ weekly newsmagazine. It foresees a new generation of unobtrusive or even visually attractive solar panels that blend seamlessly into the architecture of homes and business.

C&EN senior business editor Melody Voith notes that scientists, engineers, and architects are developing new solar panels, including materials that resemble normal shingles and invisible solar films that can cover glass windows. There’s a rapidly growing demand for these so-called building-integrated photovoltaics, or BIPV, that blend solar technology into the overall building aesthetic. One estimate suggests that the market for BIPV will grow by 18 percent a year through 2014, with revenues of about $780 million, according to the article.

Japan and Europe are now the strongest markets for BIPV. Sales are just beginning to rise in the United States, especially in states like sunny California, which offers generous subsidies for solar power. But several hurdles stand in the way of further expansion of this new solar technology, including a need for more efficient solar cells and demand for more durable and cost-effective materials. Although buildings clad in nearly invisible solar cells are mostly visions of the future, government incentives and ongoing technology improvements could combine to make this dream a widespread reality, the article suggests.

Journalists’ Resources

  • Save the Date: ACS August National Meeting
    Join more than 11,000 scientists expected to gather in Washington, D. C., Aug. 16-20 for one of the year’s largest and most important scientific conferences. The 238th National Meeting of the American Chemical Society will feature 8,000 reports on new discoveries about chemistry, medicine, health, food, fuels, the environment and other topics. For advance complimentary news media registration: https://www.xpressreg.net/register/acsf089/media/start.asp.
  • Save the Date: Green Chemistry conference on sustainability begins June 23
    Jean-Michel Cousteau, noted explorer, film-producer and environmentalist, and Len Sauers, Ph.D., Vice President of Global Sustainability for The Procter & Gamble Company, are the featured keynote speakers at the upcoming 13th annual Green Chemistry & Engineering Conference in June in College Park, Md. The focus of this year’s conference, June 23-25 at the Marriott Inn and Conference Center, is on progress made toward research objectives identified in the National Academy of Sciences’ 2006 report, “Sustainability in the Chemical Industry: Grand Challenges and Research Needs.” Sauers will address the convention on June 24, Cousteau on June 25. For more information on the conference, please visit www.gcande.org.
  • Writing on Green Chemistry?
    Here is a treasure trove of some of the most significant scientific research articles published in 2008.
    http://pubs.acs.org/stoken/presspac/presspac/full/10.1021/op900082k
  • Press releases, briefings, and more from ACS’ 237th National Meeting
    http://www.eurekalert.org/acsmeet.php

    http://www.ustream.tv/channel/acslive
  • Must-reads from C&EN: Greener processes help pharma, fine chemical firms
    Developing greener processes not only helps the environment, but it is providing many benefits for pharmaceutical and fine chemicals manufacturers. One key reason: process chemistry and green chemistry share such common goals as generating less waste and emissions, minimizing material and energy use and operating more safely under more benign conditions. Overall, the fact that chemists are paying closer attention to their choices of reagents and solvents is making process development even greener. For a copy of this story, send an e-mail to m_bernstein@acs.org.
  • ACS pressroom blog
    The American Chemical Society’s Office of Public Affairs (OPA) has created a new pressroom blog to highlight prominent research from ACS’ 34 journals.
  • Bytesize Science blog
    Educators and kids, put on your thinking caps: The American Chemical Society has a new blog for Bytesize Science, a science podcast for kids of all ages.
  • ACS satellite pressroom: Daily news blasts on Twitter
    The American Chemical Society’s Office of Public Affairs (OPA) new satellite press room has quickly become one of the most popular science news sites on Twitter. To receive press room updates, create a free account at https://twitter.com/signup. Then visit http://twitter.com/ACSpressroom and click the ‘join’ button beneath the press room logo.
  • ACS Press Releases

General science press releases on a variety of chemistry-related topics.

  • New Web site on everyday chemicals
    Whether you want to learn more about caffeine, benzoyl peroxide (acne treatment), sodium chloride (table salt), or some other familiar chemical, CAS Common Chemistry can help. The new Web site provides non-chemists and others with useful information about everyday chemicals by searching either a chemical name or a corresponding CAS Registry Number. The site currently contains approximately 7,800 chemicals of general interest as well as all 118 elements from the periodic table, providing alternative names, molecular structures, a Wikipedia link, and other information.
  • From Chemical Abstracts Service (CAS)
    CAS - Science Connections
    is a series of articles that showcases the value of CAS databases in light of important general-interest science and technology news. Ranging in topics from fruit flies to Nobel Prize winners, the CAS - Science Connections series points to the CAS databases for a more complete understanding of the latest news

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PressPac information is intended for your personal use in news gathering and reporting and should not be distributed to others. Anyone using advance PressPac information for stocks or securities dealing may be guilty of insider trading under the federal Securities Exchange Act of 1934.

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.