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ACS News Service Weekly PressPac: October 14, 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

Fabled “vegetable lamb” plant contains potential treatment for osteoporosis

The “vegetable lamb” plant — once believed to bear fruit that ripened into a living baby sheep — produces substances that show promise in laboratory experiments as new treatments for osteoporosis, the bone-thinning disease. That’s the conclusion of a new study in ACS’ monthly Journal of Natural Products.

Young Ho Kim and colleagues point out that osteoporosis is a global health problem, affecting up to 6 million women and 2 million men in the United States alone.

Doctors know that the secret to strong bones involves a delicate balance between two types of bone cells: Osteoblasts, which build up bone, and osteoclasts, which break down bone.

Seeking potential medications that might tip the balance in favor of bone building, the researchers turned to the “vegetable lamb” plant as part of a larger study plants used in folk medicine in Vietnam. In the 16th and 17th centuries, some of the world’s most celebrated scientists believed the plant (Cibotium barmoetz) fruited into a newly born lamb, which then grazed on nearby grass and weeds.

Kim’s group isolated compounds from C. barmoetz and showed that they blocked formation of bone-destroying osteoclasts formation in up to 97 percent of the cells in laboratory cultures without harmful effects on other cells.

The substances “could be used in the development of therapeutic targets for osteoporosis,” the article notes.


Journal of Natural
Products

Scientists are reporting the first evidence that China’s sharp focus on reducing widespread damage to soil by acid rain by restricting sulfur dioxide air pollution may have an unexpected consequence: Gains from that pollution control program will be largely offset by increases in nitrogen emissions, which the country’s current policy largely overlooks. The study, which suggests that government officials adapt a more comprehensive pollution control strategy that includes a new emphasis on cutting nitrogen emissions, is scheduled for the Nov. 1 issue of ACS’ Environmental Science & Technology, a semi-monthly journal.

Lei Duan and colleagues explain that China is trying to stop soil acidification by reducing sulfur dioxide pollution from electric power plant smokestacks. Those emissions cause acid rain, which in turn has made vast areas of farmland more acid and less productive.


China is striving for a 10 percent reduction in sulfur dioxide emissions by 2010, a policy that seems have had only a limited impact so far, the researchers say. However, China has paid little attention to pollution from nitrogen oxides, which also contribute to acid rain and soil contamination.

The scientists’ analysis found that the benefits of sulfur dioxide reductions will almost be offset by increased nitrogen emissions. To control this problem, “China needs a multipollutant control strategy that integrates measures to reduce sulfur, nitrogen, and particulate matter,” the article notes.


Improving China’s acid rain control strategy

Researchers have established the conditions that foster formation of potentially dangerous levels of a toxic substance in the high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) often fed to honey bees. Their study, which appears in ACS’ bi-weekly Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, could also help keep the substance out of soft drinks and dozens of other human foods that contain HFCS. The substance, hydroxymethylfurfural (HMF), forms mainly from heating fructose.

In the new study, Blaise LeBlanc and Gillian Eggleston and colleagues note HFCS’s ubiquitous usage as a sweetener in beverages and processed foods. Some commercial beekeepers also feed it to bees to increase reproduction and honey production. When exposed to warm temperatures, HFCS can form HMF and kill honeybees. Some researchers believe that HMF may be a factor in Colony Collapse Disorder, a mysterious disease that has killed at least one-third of the honeybee population in the United States.

The scientists measured levels of HMF in HFCS products from different manufacturers over a period of 35 days at different temperatures. As temperatures rose, levels of HMF increased steadily. Levels jumped dramatically at about 120 degrees Fahrenheit. “The data are important for commercial beekeepers, for manufacturers of HFCS, and for purposes of food storage. Because HFCS is incorporated as a sweetener in many processed foods, the data from this study are important for human health as well,” the report states. It adds that studies have linked HMF to DNA damage in humans. In addition, HMF breaks down in the body to other substances potentially more harmful than HMF.

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Environmental Science
& Technology

Economy-minded consumers who want protection from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays — but rather not pay premium prices for sun-protective clothing — should think blue and red, rather than yellow. Scientists in Spain are reporting that the same cotton fabric dyed deep blue or red provide greater UV protection than shades of yellow.

Their study, which could lead to fabrics with better sun protection, is scheduled for the Nov. 4 issue of ACS’ Industrial & Engineering Chemistry Research, a bi-weekly journal.

Ascensión Riva and colleagues explain that the color of a fabric is one of the most important factors in determining how well clothing protects against UV radiation.

Gaps, however, exist in scientific knowledge about exactly how color interacts with other factors to influence a fabric’s ability to block ultraviolet protection factor (UPF).

The scientists describe use of computer models that relate the level of UV protection achieved with three fabric dyes to their effects in changing the UPF of fabrics and other factors. In doing so, they dyed cotton fabrics in a wide range of red, blue, and yellow shades and measured the ability of each colored sample to absorb UV light.

Fabrics with darker or more intense colors tended to have better UV absorption. Deep blue shades offered the highest absorption, while yellow shades offered the least. Clothing manufacturers could use information from this study to better design sun-protective clothing, the scientists indicate.


Heat forms potentially harmful substance in high-fructose corn syrup

Each of the 6.7 billion people on Earth has a signature body odor — the chemical counterpart to fingerprints — and scientists are tracking down those odiferous arches, loops, and whorls in the “human odorprint” for purposes ranging from disease diagnosis to crime prevention. That’s the topic of an article in the current issue of Chemical & Engineering News, ACS’ weekly newsmagazine.

C&EN Senior Correspondent Ivan Amato points out that police long have used trained dogs to sniff out these uniquely personal scents in pursuing criminals. Scientists now are trying to decipher the chemistry of human odor to develop technology that can detect and classify smells.

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That’s a difficult task, the article says, noting that each person’s odorprint is a complex mixture impacted by multiple environmental factors, including diet and cosmetics.

The article describes progress in that direction, explaining that scientists already have identified odors in human breath and skin associated with diabetes, cancer, and other diseases. Scientists are even trying to detect the “smell of deception,” or chemical changes that occur with heightened stress that may help screen and identify, for example, terrorists planning to blow up an airplane and criminals intending to rob a bank.


Journal of Agricultural
and Food Chemistry

  • Press releases, briefings, and more from ACS’ 238th National Meeting
    http://www.eurekalert.org/acsmeet.php

    http://www.ustream.tv/channel/acslive
  • National Chemistry Week Oct. 18-24, 2009
    Activities will be held in communities around the United States Oct. 18-24 to celebrate National Chemistry Week, the American Chemical Society’s annual showcase of chemistry’s central role in our lives. This year’s theme is “Chemistry—It’s Elemental!” It focuses on chemical elements, which make-up everything on Earth and beyond, from people and plants to stars and other celestial objects a million billion years across the universe. During the week, thousands of students will learn about these building blocks of everything. For more information, including the location of local NCW events, please visit http://www.chemistryweek.org
  • Must-reads from C&EN: Biorefineries still beyond the horizon
  • considerable research and development and the influx of millions of dollars in investments, biorefineries producing alternative fuels commercially are still a long way off. And by the time biorefineries are producing on a large scale, some experts say they may not be needed if people switch to electric cars or if sun, wind and coal can provide energy to these vehicles: For a copy of this story, e-mail m_bernstein@acs.org.
  • Writing on Green Chemistry?
    Here is a treasure trove of important scientific research articles published in 2008.
    http://pubs.acs.org/stoken/presspac/presspac/full/10.1021/op900082k

  • 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
    Press releases
    on a variety of chemistry-related topics.
  • Chemical Abstracts Service (CAS) 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 includes about 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.
  • Science Connections from 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. Topics range 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.

Some color shades offer better protection against sun’s ultraviolet rays

  • Bytesize Science, a podcast for young listeners
    Bytesize Science is a science podcast for kids of all ages that entertains and educates, with new high-definition video podcasts and some episodes available in Spanish. Subscribe to Bytesize Science in iTunes using iTunes No iTunes? No problem. Listen to latest episodes of Bytesize Science in your web browser.
  • Global Challenges/Chemistry Solutions
    This special series of ACS podcasts on some of the 21st Century’s most daunting challenges, and how and how chemists and other scientists are finding solutions. Subscribe at iTunes or listen and access other resources at the ACS web site www.acs.org/GlobalChallenges.
  • Science Elements: Science Elements is a podcast of PressPac contents that makes cutting-edge scientific discoveries from ACS journals available to a broader public audience. Subscribe to Science Elements using iTunes. Listen to the latest episodes of Science Elements in your web browser.
  • SciFinder® Podcasts
    Interested in healthful plant phytochemicals, nanotechnology, or green chemistry? Check out the SciFinder series of podcasts, which explore a vast array of current interest topics and new discoveries in the 21st century. The SciFinder podcasts are available in English, Chinese, Japanese, and Portuguese.

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 is a nonprofit organization chartered by the U.S. Congress. With more than 154,000 members, ACS is the world’s largest scientific society 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.

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