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Laundry detergents that give new meaning to that old advertising clichÉ, "whiter than white," may emerge from a controlled-release technology scheduled to be described in the Aug. 22 issue of the ACS journal, Chemistry of Materials.
Bakul C. Dave and colleagues report development and testing of tiny silica gel beads to encapsulate the enzymes now used in a large number of laundry detergents. Developed with biotechnology, those enzymes are used in liquid and powdered detergents to help remove protein-based stains from dirty laundry. Other detergent ingredients, however, create a hostile environment for the enzymes, sometimes causing them to clump and loose activity.
The new silica gel beads form a protective shell around the enzymes. It protects the enzymes from air and moisture for extended periods on store shelves and after packaging has been opened. The coating dissolves quickly, however, and releases the enzymes when conditions are right in the washing machine.
Journal: Chemistry of Materials
Journal Article: "Controlled Dissolution of Organosilica Sol-Gels as a Means for Water-Regulated Release/Delivery of Actives in Fabric Care Applications "
Scientists are set to publish the first detailed account of their synthesis of a remarkable molecule that improves the immune system’s ability to battle disease. Called QS-21A, it has been used in more than 80 clinical trials of therapeutic vaccines against melanoma, breast cancer, small cell lung cancer, HIV and malaria.
Unlike more familiar vaccines used to prevent disease, therapeutic vaccines treat disease that already has occurred. QS-21A is added to therapeutic vaccines as an adjuvant, or booster that enhances the vaccine’s effects. QS-21A makes vaccines more potent, and allows some to be effective at lower doses.
QS-21A’s effects have been known for 80 years. However, the substance previously was available in limited quantities because it had to be extracted from the bark of a South American tree.
In 2005, however, David Y. Gin and colleagues at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign synthesized QS-21A. In their latest report, scheduled for the Aug. 30 issue of the Journal of the American Chemical Society, the researchers provide key information that should enable scientists to make analogues, or molecular variants of QS-21A. That research may help solve the mystery of how QS-21A works, Gin said, and why it is so potent. Some of the new analogues could be even more effective.
Journal: American Chemical Society
Journal Article: “Synthetic Studies of Complex Immunostimulants from Quilaja saponaria: Synthesis of the Potent Clinical Immunoadjuvant QS-21Aapi.”
Exposure to high levels of environmental pollutants called organohalogen compounds (OHCs) seems to reduce the size of sexual organs in male and female polar bears, researchers report in an article scheduled for the Sept. 15 issue of the ACS journal, Environmental Science & Technology. OHCs include dioxins, polychlorinated biphenyls and some pesticides.
Christian Sonne and colleagues checked 55 male and 44 female East Greenland polar bears for a correlation between OHC levels in body tissue and size of sexual organs.
Sonne's group did the study to close gaps in knowledge about the OHC's possible effects on reproduction in polar bears, a vulnerable population because of their low reproductive rates. The bears have elevated OHC levels, due to a diet that includes seals, which accumulate large amounts of OHCs in their blubber. Past studies have linked OHCs to various health effects in the bears.
The new study reports a connection between OHC levels and reduced size of the uterus in female bears and reduced size of the testis and baculum (penis bone) in males. A large baculum is critical for successful mating in an arctic climate, the researchers note, and even slight decreases may interfere with reproduction. "Furthermore, similar physiological impacts from organohalogen-pollutant exposure may be manifested on the reproductive tract of humans relying on OHC-contaminated food resources," the study states.
Journal: Environmental Science & Technology
Journal Article: "Xenoendocrine Pollutants May Reduce Size of Sexual Organs in East Greenland Polar Bears (Ursus maritimus)"
The search for a food that can be enriched with healthful conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) has taken an unlikely twist — straight toward the silkworm. An international group of scientists is reporting success in producing high-CLA silkworms. Although silkworm soufflÉ may not sound like the most appetizing dish, people in Asian countries treasure powdered silkworm as a nutritional supplement and traditional treatment for diabetes.
CLA is an umbrella term for isomers — chemical forms — of linoleic acid, an essential fatty acid. Studies suggest that CLA may have a range of health benefits. They include stimulation of the immune system, protection against cancer and heart disease, reducing body fat and controlling diabetes. Those studies sparked efforts to produce high-CLA poultry, eggs and pigs by feeding CLA to animals. However, it has been difficult to get those animals to incorporate large amounts of CLAs.
Yeong L. Ha and colleagues now report that silkworms fed CLA-coated mulberry leaves at a certain stage in their growth cycle accumulate large amounts of CLA. They began the research, scheduled for the July 12 issue of ACS’ Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, after other scientists found that houseflies accumulate CLA. “It is of great significance to produce silkworms containing CLA incorporated into the lipids of their bodies,” Ha reported, adding that CLA may enhance the healthful properties of silkworm powder.
Journal: Agricultural and Food Chemistry
Journal Article: “Production of Silkworms with Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA) Incorporated Into their Lipids by Dietary CLA”
Super-high resolution optical microscopes, with powers that seemed physically impossible a decade ago, are poised to open a new era in imaging in molecular biology, according to a report scheduled for the Sept. 4 issue of Chemical & Engineering News, the ACS’ weekly news magazine.
The new optical microscopes produce images that can identify the precise cellular locations of thousands of individual protein molecules with unprecedented clarity, C&EN Senior Editor Ivan Amato writes in the article. “Once such super-resolution tools get into the hands of the many, instead of just the few who have built them, [scientists say], the effect on biology could be transformative,” the article states.
Barely a decade ago, Amato explains, scientists would have scoffed at the notion of an optical microscope capable of resolving, or bringing into focus, objects as small as molecules. It would seem to defy an ironclad principle of physics dating to 1873. However, the new generation of microscopes can do exactly that by detecting fluorophores and other fluorescent tags used to label protein molecules.
Many reporters who cover chemistry, materials science, medicine, health, environment and business closely follow the rapid-pace of innovation in nanotechnology.
September 10-14 is one of the year’s biggest and most influential scientific conferences – the 232nd ACS National Meeting in beautiful San Francisco.
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.