The American Chemical Society (ACS) News Service Weekly PressPac (PressPac) offers information on reports selected from 35 major peer-reviewed journals and Chemical & Engineering News.
This information is intended for your personal use in news gathering and reporting and should not be distributed to others. Anyone using advance ACS News Service Weekly PressPac information for stocks or securities dealing may be guilty of insider trading under the federal Securities Exchange Act of 1934.
Please cite the individual journal, or the American Chemical Society, as the source of this information.
Exposure to particles of depleted uranium (DU), the source of growing international concern as a potential health hazard, may increase the risk of genetic damage and lung cancer, scientists in Maine conclude in a report scheduled for the May 21 issue of ACS’ Chemical Research in Toxicology, a monthly journal.
DU is the material remaining after removal or depletion of the U-238 isotope of uranium. With a density about twice that of lead, DU is ideal for use in military armor and munitions, John Pierce Wise, Sr., and colleagues point out in the new study. DU dust produced in combat creates potentially frequent and widespread exposure for soldiers and non-combatants, who may inhale DU dust particles, the researchers note.
However, there have been few studies on the health effects of lung exposure to DU, they add. In the new study, researchers tested the effects of DU on cultures of human lung cells. “This is the first article on the cytotoxicity and clastogenicity [chromosome damaging potential] of particulate and soluble DU in human bronchial cells,” the study states. “These data suggest that exposure to particulate DU may pose a significant genotoxic risk and could possibly result in lung cancer.”
Scientists in Spain are reporting development of a new process to make cocoa powder with higher amounts of the healthful chemical compounds linked to chocolate’s beneficial effects. The study is scheduled for publication in the May 30 issue of ACS’ Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.
Juan Carlos Espin de Gea and colleagues report that the new cocoa powder contains levels of some flavonoids 8 times higher than conventional cocoa. They achieved the higher flavonoid content by omitting the traditional fermentation and roasting steps used in the processing of cocoa beans. Those steps destroy some flavonoids, which are natural antioxidants.
Researchers used the flavonoid-enriched cocoa powder in a clinical trial to determine whether the compounds were bioavailable — in a form that humans can absorb. In the trial, six healthy volunteers consumed a milk drink made with flavonoid-enriched cocoa. The same volunteers later drank chocolate milk made from traditional cocoa. Blood and urine tests established the bioavailability of flavonoids in the enriched-milk drink, showing that people do absorb higher levels of the compounds. Based on the results, researchers suggest further clinical trials on the health benefits of flavonoid-enriched cocoa powder.
Journal: Agricultural and Food Chemistry
Journal Article: “A New Process to develop a Cocoa Powder with Higher Flavonoid Monomer Content and Enhanced Bioavailability in Healthy Humans”
Skin patch screening test for allergy to fragrances — second only to nickel as the most common cause of contact dermatitis in the Western world — may not detect some cases of allergy to a widely used fragrance chemical, Swedish scientists are reporting.
In a study scheduled for publication May 8 in ACS’ Chemical Research in Toxicology, Ann-Therese Karlberg and colleagues focus on geraniol, a chemical in Fragrance Mix I (used for allergy skin patch testing). Because of its fresh, floral scent, geraniol is widely used in household products, underarm deodorants and cosmetics, the report states. Geraniol has been regarded as a weak allergen, responsible for only about 5 percent of positive patch test responses to the fragrance allergens used for screening of fragrance allergy in dermatitis patients.
The new research, however, shows that geraniol oxidizes during exposure to air, changing into a more potent allergen. “Cases of allergy to the oxidation products of geraniol will not be diagnosed unless patients are tested with the air-exposed material,” the report states. “Thus, our observations once more emphasize the need for testing with the right material for screening contact allergy.”
Journal: Chemical Research in Toxicology
Journal Article: “Fragrance Compound Geraniol Forms Contact Allergens on Air Exposure. Identification and Quantification of Oxidation Products and Effect on Skin Sensitization”
In another illustration of chemistry’s knack for improving on Mother Nature, scientists in Canada and the United States are reporting that a synthetic version of a natural antifreeze protein — with numerous potential applications — is far superior to the natural product. The study is scheduled for publication in the May 14 issue of ACS’ Biomacromolecules, a monthly journal.
The University of Ottawa’s Robert N. Ben and colleagues report on a synthetic version of the antifreeze glycoproteins (AFGPs) that enable Arctic and Antarctic fish to survive in freezing-cold waters. AFGPs, they note, have applications ranging from prevention of freezer burn in frozen foods to preservation of human organs donated for transplantation. Barriers to those uses include the scarcity and high cost of natural AFGPs.
In the new study, researchers found that their artificial AFGP, which can be produced in large quantities, also appears safer in laboratory cell culture tests. A natural AFGP caused cell damage that could substantially limit its use as an organ preservative, for instance, while the synthetic compound showed no such toxicity. The researchers term their results “exciting,” and describe the synthetic AFGP as “an extremely valuable lead compound for the development of novel cryoprotectants.”
With traditional venture capital firms shying away from investments that traditionally sustained the early stages in drug discovery among biotechnology start-up firms, “venture philanthropists” have quietly stepped up to fill the gap, according to an article scheduled for the May 2 issue of Chemical & Engineering News (C&EN) ACS’ weekly newsmagazine.
In the article, C&EN associate editor Lisa Jarvis describes how venture capital firms have shifted away from investment in early-stage drug development, which provides “seed money” for start-up firms to begin work on promising new drugs. Those firms now are putting cash into the later stages of drug development and commercialization, where risks are smaller and marketable products are more likely to result.
The shift in priorities has resulted in emergence of the venture philanthropy movement,in which non-profit organizations, such as the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, have become an important source of money for early-stage drug discovery. At that stage, academic scientists, entrepreneurs and start-up companies are seeking money for research to validate ideas for new drugs. Jarvis surveys the venture philanthropy landscape, and explains how disease advocacy groups have become major players in the for-profit world of biotech startups.
The Philadelphia Section, American Chemical Society, and Ursinus College will host the 39th ACS Middle Atlantic Regional Meeting.
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: Chemical & Engineering News
Journal Article: “Sowing the Seeds of Much-Needed Cures: As Venture capitalists’ priorities shift, venture philanthropists fill the gap in funding of drug discovery by biotechs”