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.
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Please cite the individual journal, or the American Chemical Society, as the source of this information.
Scientists in the United Kingdom are reporting an advance toward overcoming one of the key challenges in nanotechnology: Getting molecules to move quickly in a desired direction without help from outside forces. Their achievement has broad implications, the scientists say, raising the possibility of coaxing cells to move and grow in specific directions to treat diseases. It also could speed development of some long-awaited nanotech innovations. They include self-healing structures that naturally repair tears in their surface and devices that deliver medication to diseased while sparing healthy tissue. The study is scheduled for the October issue of ACS Nano, a monthly journal.
Mark Geoghegan and colleagues note long-standing efforts to produce directed, controlled movement of individual molecules in the nano world,
where objects are about 1/50,000ththe width of a human hair. The main solutions so far have involved use of expensive, complex machines to move the molecules and they have been only partially successful, the scientists say.
The scientists used a special surface with hydrophobic (water repelling) and hydrophilic (water-attracting) sections. The region between the two sections produced a so-called “energy gradient” which can move tiny objects much like a conveyor belt. In lab studies, the scientists showed that plastic nanoparticles (polymer molecules) moved quickly and in a specific direction on this surface. “This could have implications in many technologies such as coaxing cells to move and grow in given directions, which could have major implications for the treatment of paralysis,” the scientists said.
Scientists in Australia are reporting development and testing in laboratory animals of a potential new material for diagnosing malignant melanoma, the most serious form of skin cancer. Their study is scheduled for the September 10 issue of the ACS’ Journal of the Medicinal Chemistry, a bi-weekly publication.
Ivan Greguric and colleagues working within the Cooperative Research Consortium for Biomedical Imaging Develop, an Australian Government funded research group, note that about 130,000 new cases of malignant melanoma occur each year worldwide. Patients do best with early diagnosis and prompt treatment. The positron emission tomography (PET) scans sometimes used for diagnosis sometimes miss small cancers, delaying diagnosis and treatment.
The scientists’ search for better ways of diagnosis led them to a new group of radioactive imaging agents, called fluoronicotinamides, which they tested in laboratory mice that had melanoma. The most promising substance revealed melanoma cells with greater accuracy than imaging agents now in use, the scientists note. As a result, this substance could become a “superior” PET imaging agent for improving the diagnosis and monitoring the effectiveness of treatment of melanoma, they say. Clinical trials with this new agent are now scheduled for 2010.
Scientists are reporting discovery of a much sought after crack in the armor of a common microbe that infects the stomachs of one-sixth of the world’s population, causing stomach ulcers and other diseases. They identified a group of substances that block a key chemical pathway that the bacteria need for survival. Their study, which could lead to new, more effective antibiotics to fight these hard-to-treat microbes, is scheduled for the October 16 issue of ACS Chemical Biology, a monthly journal.
Javier Sancho and colleagues note in the new study that Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) bacteria infect the stomach lining and can cause gastritis and ulcers. Treatment with broad-spectrum antibiotics can cure H. pylori infections. However, an estimated one billion people remain infected worldwide because of the cost of existing antibiotics and the emergence of antibiotic resistant strains of the bacteria, the researchers say.
The scientists knew from past research that blocking flavodoxin, a key protein that H. pylori needs for survival, could be the key to developing narrow-spectrum antibiotics that specifically target H. pylori. Sancho’s team screened 10,000 chemicals for their ability to block flavodoxin and identified four that showed promise. They then showed that three of the four substances killed H. pylori in cell cultures and did not have any apparent toxic effects in lab animals. “These new inhibitors constitute promising candidates to develop new specific antibiotics against H. pylori,” the study states.
Scientists in China have discovered that a natural plant hormone, applied to crops, can help plants eliminate residues of certain pesticides. The study is in the current issue of ACS’ Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, a bi-weekly publication.
Jing Quan Yu and colleagues note that pesticides are essential for sustaining food production for the world’s growing population.
Farmers worldwide use about 2.5 million tons of pesticides each year. Scientists have been seeking new ways of minimizing pesticide residues that remain in food crops after harvest — with little success. Previous research suggested that plant hormones called brassinosteroids (BRs) might be an answer to the problem.
The scientists treated cucumber plants with one type of BR then treated the plants with various pesticides, including chloropyrifos (CPF), a broad-spectrum commercial insecticide. BR significantly reduced their toxicity and residues in the plants, they say. BRs may be “promising, environmentally friendly, natural substances suitable for wide application to reduce the risks of human and environmental exposure to pesticides,” the scientists note. The substances do not appear to be harmful to people or other animals, they add.
Drug companies are sprinting ahead in a race against the clock to deliver millions of doses of vaccine for the H1N1 influenza virus before cooler weather ushers in the 2009-2010 flu season. A two-part cover story in the current issue of Chemical & Engineering News, ACS’ weekly newsmagazine, focuses on that topic and efforts to develop antiviral drugs for flu infections.
C&EN senior correspondent Ann Thayer cites World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that one-third of the world’s population — 2.2 billion people — will be exposed to the H1N1 virus. Although antiviral drugs can help limit the spread of H1N1, a vaccine offers the best means to prevent infection, the article notes.
Although the H1N1 virus just emerged in April, vaccine developers have made an effective vaccine. However, WHO says that only a fraction of the potential supply will be ready for distribution before flu season starts — in October in the Northern Hemisphere. The article describes how at least nine countries have pledged to donate vaccines to help fight the pandemic in developing countries and two vaccine manufacturers have earmarked a portion of their production for developing countries. That generosity will help protect populations that otherwise would not have access to vaccines, the article notes.
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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 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.