The American Chemical Society (ACS) News Service Weekly press package (PressPac) offers information on reports selected from 35 major peer-reviewed journals and Chemical & Engineering News.
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The ingredient that helps give “salt & vinegar” potato chips that tangy snap is the key to a new waterproof coating for protecting concrete from water damage, according to a study scheduled for the current (August 1) issue of ACS’ Industrial & Engineering Chemistry Research, a bi-weekly journal.
Awni Al-Otoom and colleagues in Jordan point out that concrete’s unique properties have made it the world’s most widely used structural material. Concrete, however, is so porous that water soaks in, corroding steel reinforcing bars and meshes that strengthen concrete roads and buildings and causing cracks as water expands and contracts during freeze-thaw cycles. Sealants are commercially available, but they have serious shortcomings, the study notes.
In the new report, researchers describe the use of sodium acetate as an inexpensive and environmentally friendly concrete sealant. One of sodium acetate’s many uses is in flavored potato chips. In laboratory studies using freshly made concrete, the researchers showed that sodium acetate seeps into pores in concrete and then hardens and crystallizes upon exposure to water. The resultant swelling blocks entry of additional moisture, they said. Under dry conditions, the crystals shrink back to their original size and allow moisture to evaporate. The net result is “a significant reduction in water permeability,” that “can be expected to increase the service life of the concrete,” the report said.
In an advance toward the long-sought ability to deliver medication directly to diseased tissue, while minimizing side effects and damage to healthy parts of the body, scientists are reporting development of a new dosing system that is controlled by light. The study is scheduled for the August 15 issue of the Journal of the American Chemical Society, a weekly journal.
Colin P. McCoy and colleagues in Northern Ireland describe their new molecular-scale dosing devices as a “new paradigm for precise control of drug dosing using light.” The devices consist of medications that are combined with certain chemical compounds that respond to light in ways that release precisely controlled amounts of the drug. Drug release begins when light falls on the compounds, and lasts only as long as the light continues to shine.
The study reports successful laboratory tests of the system in the controlled release of three common medications used to treat pain and inflammation — aspirin, ibuprofen and ketoprofen. One potential use cited in the study would be in the treatment of urinary catheter infections, where the drug is held latently in the catheter, and is released when needed. The system could be applied for other conditions using an implant under the skin for precisely controlled drug dosing, the researchers suggest.
In a finding that could help put wheat alongside corn on the menu of biofuel sources, researchers in the United Kingdom and Greece report development of a new method for producing ethanol from wheat. The technology - potentially cheaper and more efficient than conventional methods for producing wheat-based biofuel - is scheduled for the August 3 issue of ACS’ Biotechnology Progress, a bi-monthly journal.
As oil prices soar, demand for bioethanol to stretch out supplies of gasoline has increased dramatically, along with frenzied research efforts to find the best raw materials for its economical production. While most bioethanol in the United States is made from corn, wheat “could be regarded as the preferred cereal grain for bioethanol production” in Europe, where the grain is more widely grown, the article states. But conventional methods for producing bioethanol from wheat are complex and inefficient.
In the new study, Apostolis Koutinas and colleagues describe a simplified biorefining method that uses fewer steps and less energy and generates fewer waste products. Depending on the selected combination of physical and biological treatment, this process also yields various fractions enriched in bran, wheat germ and proteins that could be sold or utilized for the extraction or production of value-added products, boosting income of biorefineries, the scientists say. “This process could substitute for the conventional wheat dry milling process that is currently employed in industry.”
Journal: Biotechnology Progress
Journal Article: “Optimization and Cost Estimation of novel Wheat Biorefining for Continuous Production of Fermentation Feedstock”
An international team of researchers is proposing a plan for building a “toolkit” for personalized medicine — that long-anticipated era in which physicians customize efforts to prevent, diagnose, and treat diseases to match the unique genetic characteristics of each individual patient.
In a review article scheduled for the August 3 issue of ACS’s Journal of Proteome Research, a monthly publication, Fredrik Nyberg, György Marko-Varga, Atsushi Ogiwara and colleagues point out that cancer therapy already is moving toward individualized treatments selected according to tumor cell type and patients’ predicted responses to different kinds of anti-cancer drugs. Their paper describes key features of state-of-the-art proteomic profiling, in which blood tests are used to analyze single proteins and multiple “fingerprint” protein patterns that are present, including proteins that can serve as biomarkers for disease.
The article discusses components of a toolkit that physicians could use in everyday medicine, including rapid methods for identifying proteins in the blood and processing the resulting data. “The potential of our proteomics toolkit hopefully brings us one step closer to a practical personalized medicine,” the report states.
After years of frustration with traditional methods for testing the toxicity of chemicals in the environment, scientists are working to adapt faster, simpler screening methods that do not require animals, now used by the pharmaceutical industry to identify potential drug candidates, according to an article in the August 6 issue of Chemical & Engineering News (C&EN), ACS’s weekly newsmagazine.
The article, written by C&EN Senior Editor Celia Henry Arnaud, explains that animal testing long has been the gold standard for environmental toxicology. But such tests take years to complete, can’t always be confidently extrapolated to humans, and require the use of laboratory animals. As a result, only a handful of commercial chemicals have gone through the complete battery of tests used by the Federal Government’s National Toxicology Program in its most thorough toxicology investigations.
Arnaud explains how environmental toxicologists are eyeing an attractive alternative — the so-called high-throughput screening methods that pharmaceutical companies use to find potential drug candidates within libraries of compounds. “If successful, such assays may in the short term reduce the animal toxicity tests that are necessary and in the long term replace animal tests entirely,” the article states. It points out, however, that formidable challenges lie ahead in adapting those tests for accurately predicting which commercial chemicals are potential human health threats.
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: “Toward Toxicity Testing Without Animals: High-throughput methods from pharma could reduce need for animals when assessing toxicity of chemicals in the environment”