ACS News Service Weekly PressPac: Tue Jul 03 16:42:03 EDT 2007

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News Items in this Edition

New “Longboat Delivery System” Could Mean More Potent Anti-Cancer Drugs

Scientists are reporting development of carbon nanotubes as a “longboat delivery system” that shows potential for addressing shortcomings that have hindered development of more generally applicable platinum-based anticancer drugs. These include analogues of the widely used and extremely potent drugs cisplatin, carboplatin, and oxaliplatin. The report is scheduled for the July 11 issue of the Journal of the American Chemical Society, a weekly publication.

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Stephen J. Lippard and Stanford University’s Hongjie Dai and colleagues note that efforts to produce such molecules have been hindered because the required form of platinum loses activity in the body and becomes ineffective before reaching the tumor. Their solution was to develop a carbon nanotube delivery system, ultimately for shuttling platinum compounds safely through the body’s biochemical obstacle course and into the tumor. Once inside the tumor cell, the compounds convert from an inactive form into an active anti-cancer drug.

The chemistry involves attaching platinum compounds to single wall carbon nanotubes (SWNTs), one-atom thick sheets of graphite rolled up into a cylinder with a diameter about 50,000 times smaller than the width of a human hair. The SWNTs act as efficient transporters for the platinum warhead, carrying it to the tumor cell and then releasing the platinum as an active drug. In one experiment with cultured cells, the SWNTs produced platinum levels inside the cells 6-8 times higher than those for the platinum unit administered in the traditional way. The longboat SWNTs have the potential to carry other passengers to and into the cancer cell, as demonstrated by the co- delivery of platinum and a fluorescent dye to the cancer cell, which in the future will include tumor-targeting components.

Moving Ahead With Guidelines to Control Indoor Mold Contamination

Journal Information

Journal: American Chemical Society

Journal Article: “Soluble Single-Walled Carbon Nanotubes as Longboat Delivery Systems for Platinum (V) Anticancer Drug Design”

Amid growing public concern about mold contamination of homes and its associated health effects, a new study is recommending policy approaches for controlling mold in homes that could be used on local and nationwide bases. It is scheduled for publication in the July 15 issue of ACS’ Environmental Science and Technology, a semi-monthly journal.

The study, done by Felicia Wu, Tom Biksey, and Meryl H. Karol compares policies for regulation of mold with those previously developed to regulate two other contaminants in the indoor environment, radon and lead. While federal, state, and local agencies have policies and regulations concerning radon and lead, few state or local policies have been developed for mold and no federal agency has Congressional authority to regulate or develop indoor mold policy, the study points out.

Based on lessons from radon and lead, the researchers recommend policy approaches for controlling indoor mold that rely on building and housing codes, maintenance and rehabilitation regulations, home marketing incentives, and public education on moisture and mold control.

“While it is not yet feasible to develop standards and regulations for acceptable mold levels in the home, guidelines and policies can be developed at the federal, state, and local levels to control moisture and mold in homes,” the report states.

Jellyfish Population Explosion Leads To New Use for Waste Creatures

Journal Information

Journal: Environmental Science and Technology

Journal Article: “Can Mold Contamination of Homes Be Regulated? Lessons Learned from Radon and Lead Policies”

Amid growing concern about how to dispose of a booming population of jellyfish — including 6-foot-long monsters weighing more than 400 pounds — scientists in Japan are reporting development of a process for extracting a commercially-valuable biomaterial from the marine animals. Their report is scheduled for the July 27 issue of ACS’ Journal of Natural Products, a monthly publication.

Kiminori Ushida and colleagues note that jellyfish populations have surged worldwide, a phenomenon variously attributed to global warming and artificial reefs built along coastlines. The animals are becoming nuisances, clogging water intakes at nuclear and conventional power plants, for instance, and researchers are seeking ways to cover the cost of removing huge masses of jellyfish from the environment.

In the new study, they describe a process for extracting high yields of a protein substance called mucin that could be used as a starting material for production of designer mucins with multiple uses. Found in mucous secretions from various parts of the body, mucins lubricate body surfaces and sometimes have antibacterial effects. The report explains that the jellyfish mucin is similar to a human mucin and could substitute for mucin now obtained from pigs and cows for use in drug delivery, cosmetic products, food additives, and other products.

Polyurethane Plastics from Canola Oil

Journal Information

Journal: Natural Products

Journal Article: “Mucin (Qniumucin), a Glycoprotein from Jellyfish, and Determination of Its Main Chain Structure”

An intensive world-wide effort to develop technology for manufacturing plastics from vegetable oil, rather then petroleum, has led researchers in Canada to a process for making polyurethane (PUR) plastic sheets from canola oil. In a study scheduled for publication in the July 9 issue of ACS’s Biomacromolecules, a monthly journal, Suresh S. Narine and Xiaohua Kong report on the properties of their vegetable-based PUR sheets.

PURs are a versatile group of plastics, widely used in liquid coatings and paints, adhesives, flexible foam in upholstered furniture, building insulation, shoes, and automotive interiors.The PUR sheets were produced with an improved version of a process in which canola oil is treated with ozone to make the chemical raw materials for PUR. Researchers described the process as low-cost without the need for complicated technology, and said that it produces PUR sheets with “excellent” mechanical properties.

“It is reasonable to believe that the vegetable-based PUR could be a potential candidate to replace or practically replace petroleum-based PUR, in sensitive and high end applications such as in the biomedical area,” the report said.

Toward A Contrast Agent to Expand Medical Use of LOIS Imaging

Journal Information

Journal: Biomacromolecules

Journal Article: “Physical Properties of Polyurethane Plastic Sheets Produced from Polyols from Canola Oil”

Scientists are reporting an advance toward expanding the medical use of LOIS, an innovative new imaging technology called the laser optoacoustic imaging system that could eventually join CT, MRI and other mainstay diagnostic technologies.

In an article scheduled for the July 11 issue of ACS’ Nano Letters, a monthly journal, Massoud Motamedi and colleagues explain that LOIS uses a laser beam and ultrasound to detect early-stage cancer. LOIS, they note, has advantages over conventional optical and ultrasound imaging methods in being able to “see” deep into the body and reveal diseased tissue. Use of LOIS, however, has been limited by lack of a suitable contrast agent, a material that can be injected into the body to make diseased tissues even more visible during the imaging session.

Their research involved imaging laboratory mice with LOIS before and after an injection of gold nanorods, minute rod-shaped clusters of gold atoms that are being evaluated by other scientists for uses ranging from carriers for cancer-treatment drugs to digital data storage. Very low concentrations of the nanorods successfully enhanced the LOIS images, revealing deep tissues that cannot be visualized with other imaging techniques.

That deep insight, combined with the ability to link gold nanorods to monoclonal antibodies that specifically target cancer cells, may mean a promising new approach to early detection of cancer, the report states.

Minding the Mercury

Journal Information

Journal: Nano Letters

Journal Article: “High Sensitivity of In Vivo Detection of Gold Nanorods Using a Laser Optoacoustic Imaging System”

With Federal legislation pending to ban exports of mercury — a potentially toxic metal that has been ending up in the hands of small-scale gold miners in developing countries — stakeholders are looking ahead toward possible ways of storing thousands of tons of mercury that have accumulated in the United States, according to an article scheduled for the July 2 issue of Chemical & Engineering News (C&EN), ACS’ weekly newsmagazine.

Written by senior editor Cheryl Hogue, it is the second of two exclusive C&EN articles exploring a little known environmental conundrum involving the silvery, liquid metal. In the first article Hogue explained how millions of mom-and-pop gold miners in developing countries, many of whom already are suffering from mercury poisoning, use the metal to extract gold. Through this practice, at least 650 metric tons are released into the environment annually.

The latest C&EN article discusses legislation introduced into the U. S. Congress that could help prevent thousands of additional tons of surplus U. S. mercury from reaching those small-scale miners. Facing a potential ban, stakeholders are examining options for storing or otherwise dealing with existing stockpiles, which must be isolated from the environment. Hogue describes, for instance, how the U. S. Departments of Energy and Defense plan long-term storage of their surplus mercury over the next 40 years. If the mercury export ban becomes law, Congress could follow suit by creating a public-private entity to manage other mercury stocks, the article suggests.

Journalists’ Resources

  • General Chemistry Glossary
    The General Chemistry Glossary can be found here.
  • Introducing ACS Updates:
    Forensic Science ACS Updates: Hot research that can be a treasure trove for journalists seeking news and feature topics, or trying to keep current in rapidly-evolving scientific disciplines.
  • Forensic Science
    Concise summaries of articles on forensic science published from 2005-2006 in a dozen major journals, courtesy of ACS’ Analytical Chemistry. View these summaries online or download the PDF.
  • Emerging Water Contaminants
    Summaries of key research articles on water analysis and emerging contaminants published mainly from 2005-2006. View these articles online or download the PDF.
  • Science Elements: ACS Audio Clips
    Listen to Science news podcasts from the American Chemical Society.
  • News, Features, Background, Sources from ACS’ 233rd National Meeting
    News media resources from the March 25-29 meeting in Chicago include more than 9,000 abstracts of technical presentations and more than 1,000 non-technical summaries in a searchable database, plus press releases, podcasts, and other material. If you are researching or sourcing stories on chemistry-related topics, this resource can be a treasure trove accessible by the following:
    ACS News Service’s National Meeting Press Book page

    ACS Chicago National Meeting News Page

    ACS Press Center
  • Summer Features
    Beach Sand May Harbor Disease-Causing E. Coli Bacteria
    View this article online or download the PDF.
    Fireworks Displays Linked to Perchlorate Contamination in Lakes
    View this article online or download the PDF.

Mark Your Calendars

234th ACS National Meeting, August 19-23 Boston, MA

News media registration is now open for the 234th ACS national meeting, which will be held in Boston, MA on August 19-23, 2007 at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center and more than a dozen hotels across the city. More than 16,000 scientists and others are expected to attend this scientific extravaganza. There will be more than 9,500 presentations on new discoveries in chemistry, health, medicine, energy, environment, food, and other fields. The theme: “Biotechnology for Health and Wellness.”

11th Annual Green Chemistry & Engineering Conference, Washington, DC

This pioneering conference on one of the hottest topics in chemistry will be held June 26-29, 2007 at the Capital Hilton hotel in Washington, DC.

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 Information

Journal: Chemical & Engineering News

Journal Article: “Mercury Excess: Congress, EPA probe possibility of long-term storage of liquid metal”