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Chemists are reporting evidence that toxic compounds produced in the human body by ozone can trigger the formation of the artery blockages that cause heart attacks and strokes.
The investigators, who are with the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, Calif., previously made the completely unexpected discovery that ozone may be produced in the body. Ozone is a high-energy form of oxygen most familiar as an air pollutant. That research showed that ozone can cause pathological changes in cholesterol and other molecules in the body. The changes produce toxic compounds called “atheronals” that are present in atherosclerotic plaques removed from patients with blood vessel disease.
In their new research, scheduled for publication in the June 13 issue of Biochemistry, Paul Wentworth, Jr., and colleagues report that atheronals do have the potential to cause plaques. Atheronals accelerate or stimulate a number of processes regarded as critical for formation of atherosclerotic plaques, they found.
The Biochemistry report raises the possibility that atheronals may originate in part from ozone inhaled into the lung from polluted air. “As such, the atheronals may be a heretofore unrecognized chemical player in the known linkage between environmental pollution and cardiovascular disease,” the report states.
The classic fairy tale Goldilocks and the Three Bears showcases a bedrock principle of pharmacology. The beneficial effect of drugs often is dose-dependent. One dose is not enough. Another is too much. Yet another dose is just right.
Shela Gorinstein and colleagues in Israel and Poland have discovered that the Goldilocks rule prevails for garlic. Past scientific studies suggest that garlic is good for the heart. Garlic lowers total cholesterol levels, for instance, and levels of LDL (“bad”) cholesterol. It also makes the blood less likely to clot.
In experiments with laboratory rats, Gorinstein and colleagues have shown that garlic’s effects on total cholesterol are dose-dependent. Lab rats on a high-cholesterol diet got varying amounts of raw garlic each day — ranging from 500 milligrams (mg) to 1,000 mg per kilogram of body weight. Their report is scheduled for publication in the June 14 issue of the Journal of Agricultural & Food Chemistry.
Only the 500 mg dosage lowered cholesterol and had a beneficial effect on blood clotting. Although the results cannot automatically be applied to humans, the dose was equivalent to about 1.25 ounces of raw garlic per day for a 150-pound person. That amounts to a mega dose of fresh garlic — about a dozen cloves a day.
Journal: Agricultural & Food Chemistry
Journal Article: “Dose-Dependent Influence of Commercial Garlic (Allium sativum) on Rats Fed Cholesterol-Containing Diet.”
The Human Genome Project has spawned several new genres of “omics” research, including the well-known proteomics (protein expression) and genomics (gene expression). Another discipline — metabonomics — gets less attention, but has exciting uses in profiling metabolic differences among individuals. Profiling research has led to an explosion in reports on biomarkers to screen for cancer and other diseases.
Concern has arisen, however, that unintentional experimental bias may affect the outcome of such experiments. Hector C. Keun and colleagues now are providing researchers with an inventory of the common sources of bias in metabolic profiling research that uses a key technology, NMR spectroscopy.
Keun details those sources in the May 1 issue of Analytical Chemistry, where he states: “These observations have implications for profiling study design, and those attempting clinical metabolic profiling, for regulatory agencies involved in the licensing of clinical tests and the generation of international reporting standards for metabonomics.”
Fresh-cut fruit or the whole pineapple, cantaloupe, strawberry or kiwi — which retains more vitamin C and other healthful antioxidants after days on the shelf? With fresh-cut fruits one of the fastest growing food categories in U.S. supermarkets, many a consumer has pondered that whole-or-cut question.
Contrary to expectations, cutting and packaging fruit had almost no affect on the main antioxidants, an international group of scientists has found. Their report is scheduled for the June 14 issue of the Journal of Agricultural & Food Chemistry.
The researchers obtained pineapples, mangoes, cantaloupes, watermelons, strawberries and kiwifruits from wholesale commercial sources in California. The fruit was taken to a laboratory at the University of California in Davis. Half of each lot was processed as fresh-cut and half left whole.
Both lots were refrigerated under identical conditions for nine days and then tested for nutrient content. Tests showed only small losses of antioxidant compounds in the cut fruit compared to fruit left whole. Levels of some antioxidants in fresh-cut mango and watermelon actually increased due to exposure to light.
A Japanese chemical company has quietly transformed old-fashioned mosquito netting into a high-tech weapon against malaria. About 20 million of Sumitomo Chemical’s next-generation Olyset long-lasting insecticidal nets (LLINs) will be distributed in malaria-ravaged countries in 2006, and 30 million in 2007. Malaria kills almost one million children annually in Africa alone, and the World Health Organization says LLINs could prevent 20 percent of those deaths.
In an article scheduled for the May 29 issue of Chemical & Engineering News, Jean-Francois Tremblay explains that conventional mosquito netting needs a fresh dose of insecticide every few months — a difficult proposition for poverty-stricken people. Olyset polyethylene nets release their permethrin insecticide for up to seven years. A polyester malaria net produced by the Swiss Vestergaard-Frandsen group lasts two to three years under field conditions.
The C&EN article describes how Sumitomo has boosted production of Olyset nets as a social responsibility initiative with joint-venture partners in Africa and other countries. While saving thousands of lives, the license-free partnerships also are creating hundreds of badly needed jobs in developing countries.
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.
Journal: Chemical & Engineering News
Journal Article: “Preventing Malaria: Insecticide-treated nets are playing an important role in fighting malaria in Africa and Southeast Asia”