FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

ACS News Service Weekly PressPac: May 27, 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

Bird flu virus remains infectious up to 600 days in municipal landfills

Amid concerns about a pandemic of swine flu, researchers from Nebraska report for the first time that poultry carcasses infected with another threat — the “bird flu” virus — can remain infectious in municipal landfills for almost 2 years. Their report is scheduled for the June 15 issue of ACS’ semi-monthly journal Environmental Science & Technology.

Shannon L. Bartelt-Hunt and colleagues note that avian influenza, specifically the H5N1 strain, is an ongoing public health concern. Hundreds of millions of chickens and ducks infected with the virus have died or been culled from flocks worldwide in efforts to control the disease. More than 4 million poultry died or were culled in a 2002 outbreak in Virginia, and the carcasses were disposed of in municipal landfills. Until now, few studies have directly assessed the safety of landfill disposal.

“The objectives of this study were to assess the survival of avian influenza in landfill leachate and the influence of environmental factors,” says the report. The data showed that the virus survived in landfill leachate — liquid that drains or “leaches” from a landfill — for at least 30 days and up to 600 days. The two factors that most reduced influenza survival times were elevated temperature and acidic or alkaline pH. “Data obtained from this study indicate that landfilling is an appropriate method for disposal of carcasses infected with avian influenza,” says the study, noting that landfills are designed to hold material for much longer periods of time.

Silver nanoparticles show “immense potential” in prevention of blood clots

Scientists are reporting discovery of a potential new alternative to aspirin, ReoPro, and other anti-platelet agents used widely to prevent blood clots in coronary artery disease, heart attack and stroke. Their study, scheduled for the June 23 issue of ACS Nano, a monthly journal, involves particles of silver — 1/50,000th the diameter of a human hair — that are injected into the bloodstream.

Debabrata Dash and colleagues point out that patients urgently need new anti-thrombotic agents because traditionally prescribed medications too-often cause dangerous bleeding. At the same time, aging of the population, sedentary lifestyle and spiraling rates of certain diseases have increased the use of these drugs. Researchers are seeking treatments that more gently orchestrate activity of platelets, disk-shaped particles in the blood that form clots.

The scientists describe development and lab testing of silver nanoparticles that seem to keep platelets in an inactive state. Low levels of the nanosilver, injected into mice, reduced the ability of platelets to clump together by as much as 40 percent with no apparent harmful side effects. The nanoparticles “hold immense potential to be promoted as an antiplatelet agent,” the researchers note. “Nanosilver appears to possess dual significant properties critically helpful to the health of mankind — antibacterial and antiplatelet — which together can have unique utilities, for example in coronary stents.”

“Gene silencing” may improve treatment of a deadly complication of liver disease

A technique that “silences,” or turns off, genes shows promise as a potential new treatment for liver fibrosis — the disease that leads to cirrhosis — scientists in Tennessee are reporting. Their study is scheduled for the June 1 issue of ACS’ Molecular Pharmaceutics, a bi-monthly journal. Cirrhosis is the 12th leading cause of death in the United States.

Ram Mahato and colleagues note that fibrosis involves build-up of scar tissue in the liver from chronic liver damage caused by hepatitis, alcohol abuse, toxins, or other factors. Advanced fibrosis can lead to cirrhosis, a condition in which the liver becomes so severely damaged that patients may require a transplant. There is no effective treatment, and patients urgently need new medications. Scientists believe one may emerge from the fascinating discovery that a protein called TGF-beta 1 triggers liver inflammation and that blocking the protein may help.

The researchers designed 10 chemically synthesized substances, termed siRNAs, with the ability to block or “silence” the TGF-beta 1 gene in the liver. When put into rat liver cells, the “gene silencers" decreased levels of type 1 collagen whose excessive production leads to fibrosis, as well as two other substances known to trigger liver inflammation, by almost 50 percent. The results suggest that gene silencing may be “an efficient and more specific approach for therapy of liver fibrosis,” the report states.

New “microcapsules” put more medication into the bloodstream to treat disease

Scientists are reporting a potential solution to a problem that limits the human body’s ability to absorb and use medications for heart disease, Type-2 diabetes, cancer and other conditions. It is a “nano-hybrid microcapsule” that enables the stomach to absorb more of these so-called “poorly-soluble” medicines. Their study is scheduled for the June 1 issue of ACS’ Molecular Pharmaceutics, a bi-monthly journal.

Finding ways to improve the stomach’s uptake of poorly soluble medicines has been one of the major challenges facing pharmaceutical companies. Estimates suggest, for instance, that 40 percent of potential new drugs fall into this category. In the new study, Clive Prestidge and colleagues note that one solution has been to include detergent-like substances in pills and capsules. However, that approach involves safety concerns, since the detergent can irritate the stomach lining, making it unsuitable for drugs that must be taken month after month.

The scientists describe development of a first-of-its-kind microcapsule made from lipid oils and nanoparticles 1/50,000th the width of a human hair. Although acting like conventional detergents, they seem unlikely to irritate the stomach. In test tube experiments, microcapsule versions of the arthritis drug, indomethacin, dissolved up to five times faster than a regular version of the drug. Lab rats given the new microcapsule version absorbed almost twice as much of the drug.

Reducing salt in food without loosing that salty taste

Food manufacturers are searching for new ways to reduce the amount of salt added to products ranging from potato chips to salad dressings while preserving the salty taste that consumers crave, according to an article scheduled for the June 1 issue of Chemical & Engineering News, ACS’ weekly newsmagazine.

C&EN assistant editor Carmen Drahl notes in the article that researchers have been working toward that goal for years, as consumers concerned about high blood pressure sought to limit salt intake on the advice of public health officials. But finding a replacement for salt, or sodium chloride, is no simple task. One of the problems researchers face is lack of a detailed understanding of the basic biology of salty taste. But new pieces of the puzzle are emerging, including the discovery last year of what some scientists claim is the primary receptor responsible for human salt taste perception.

Despite this challenge, companies are forging ahead with salt reduction research. One of the most widely used salt replacers, potassium chloride, resembles salt in terms of cooking performance but has a bitter taste that some consumers find unpleasant. Several companies are developing additives to mask this bitterness. Other approaches include developing smaller salt particles so that the tongue perceives their taste more quickly. Other researchers are exploring oil-based salt emulsions that provide an enhanced perception of saltiness while using less salt. No one strategy seems to work for every food and beverage, the article notes, but help is on the way.

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: Silver lining in melamine crisis
    Last year’s scandal involving contamination of Chinese milk products with melamine is now having a positive impact on the global food industry. In the wake of the tragedy that last lead to the deaths of at least six Chinese infants and sickened nearly 300,000 children, international food safety reforms have been adopted and there have been advances in analytical methods for detecting dangerous ingredients. For a free copy of this C&EN 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. The blog includes daily commentary on the latest news from the weekly PressPac, including video and audio segments from researchers on topics covering chemistry and related sciences, including nanotechnology, food science, materials science and the environment. The pressroom blog will also cover updates on ACS’ awards, the national meetings and other general news from the world’s largest scientific society.

  • 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. The Bytesize blog contains entertaining video podcasts and audio episodes of the latest and greatest news from the frontiers of chemistry, including a video detailing a discovery about the bug-eating pitcher plant and an audio episode on a new use for magnolia tree bark.
  • 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 with daily updates on the latest research from ACS’ 34 peer-reviewed journals and other news, including links to compelling podcast series, information on the upcoming 237th National Meeting, and the latest recipients of ACS’ national awards. 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.

For Wired Readers

  • Global Challenges/Chemistry Solutions
    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. Launched in 2008, this award-winning series continues in 2009 with updates and fresh content. Subscribe at iTunes or listen and access other resources at the ACS web site www.acs.org/GlobalChallenges.
  • Bytesize Science, a podcast for young listeners
    Bytesize Science is a science podcast for kids of all ages that aims to entertain as much as it educates. Subscribe to Bytesize Science in iTunes. No iTunes? No problem. Listen to latest episodes of Bytesize Science in your web browser
  • Science Elements: An ACS Science News Podcast
    The ACS Office of Public Affairs is podcasting PressPac contents in order to make cutting-edge scientific discoveries from ACS journals available to a broad public audience at no charge. Subscribe to Science Elements using iTunes. Listen to the latest episodes of Science Elements in your web browser.

More ACS News


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.