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ACS News Service Weekly PressPac: Wed Apr 23 16:42:03 EDT 2008

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News Items in this Edition

Study calls for action on heart risks from certain anti-cancer drugs

Heart damage from certain anti-cancer drugs no longer should be regarded as a rare or relatively unimportant complication, scientists in Italy have concluded in a new overview of research on the cardiotoxicity of anti-cancer drugs. Their review, scheduled for the May 19 issue of ACS’ monthly journal, Chemical Research in Toxicology, recommends that drug regulatory agencies, physicians, and toxicologists join in a focused research effort to combat the problem.

In the new study, Giorgio Minotti, Pierantonio Menna, and Emanuela Salvatorelli point out that the risk of cardiotoxicity may be higher than previously believed, especially in older patients and those with high blood pressure, coronary artery disease, and other risk factors. Studies of long-term survivors of childhood and adult cancer — more than 10 million people in the United States alone — also suggest an increased risk of symptomatic cardiac events.

Their review found that newer, targeted drugs can damage the heart, particularly when combined with old-generation chemotherapeutics. “Toxicologists and regulatory agencies and clinicians should therefore join in collaborative efforts that improve early identification of cardiotoxicity and minimize the risks of cardiac events in patients,” the article notes. — MTS

Pricing can cut CO2 emissions from electric generators

Levying a price on carbon dioxide released by electric generators could considerably reduce greenhouse gas emissions — even before the deployment of any environmentally friendly technology — according to scientists in Pennsylvania. Their report is scheduled for the May 1 issue of ACS’ Environmental Science & Technology, a semi-monthly journal.

In the study, Jay Apt and colleagues explain that placing a price on greenhouse gas emissions has gained favor as a way to encourage utility investment in alternative technology, such as capturing carbon dioxide from smokestacks before its release into the atmosphere. They estimate a price of $35 per metric ton on generators’ CO2 emissions would decrease consumer demand for electricity. As a result, utilities would burn less fuel, release less carbon dioxide and cause emissions to fall by as much as 10 percent.

The study concluded that two of the nation’s largest electric generation and transmission systems are likely to see large CO2 reductions even with a modest price on emissions. “A price on carbon dioxide emissions that has been shown in earlier work to stimulate investment in new generation technology also provides significant CO2 reductions before new technology is deployed at large scale,” the report says. — JS

A dash of salt grows healthier tomatoes

Watering tomatoes with diluted seawater can boost their content of disease-fighting antioxidants and may lead to healthier salads, appetizers, and other tomato-based foods, scientists in Italy report. Their study is scheduled for the May 14 issue of ACS’ Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, a bi-weekly publication.

Besides their use in a variety of ethnic food dishes, tomatoes are one of the most commonly grown home garden vegetables, particularly cherry tomatoes. Scientists have linked tomatoes to several health benefits, including protection against prostate cancer and heart disease. Researchers have known for years that seawater does not stimulate the growth of tomatoes, but scientists know little about its effects on the nutritional content of the vegetables.

In the new study, Riccardo Izzo and colleagues grew cherry tomatoes in both freshwater and in a dilute solution of 12 percent seawater. They found that ripe tomatoes grown in the salty water showed higher levels of vitamin C, vitamin E, dihydrolipoic acid, and chlorogenic acid. All of these substances are antioxidants that appear to fight heart disease, cancer, aging, and other conditions. Using saltwater to irrigate tomato crops also appears to be a promising alternative to freshwater irrigation, especially in the wake of water shortages in some parts of the world, the researchers note. — MTS

Chinese ants show promise for fighting arthritis, other diseases

Ants may be an unwelcome intruder at picnics, but they could soon be a welcome guest in your medicine cabinet. Chemists in China report identification of substances in a certain species of ants that show promise for fighting arthritis, hepatitis, and other diseases. Their study is scheduled for the April 25 issue of ACS’ Journal of Natural Products, a monthly publication.

For centuries, ants have been used as a health food or drink ingredient in China to treat a wide range of health conditions, including arthritis and hepatitis. Researchers suspect that these health effects are due to anti-inflammatory and pain-killing substances in the ants. However, the exact chemicals responsible for its alleged medicinal effects are largely unknown.

In the new study, Zhi-Hong Jiang and colleagues analyzed extracts from a particular species of Chinese medicinal ant (Polyrhacis lamellidens) commonly used in folk medicine. The researchers identified at least two polyketides, potent natural products also found in plants, fungi and bacteria that have shown promise in studies by others for fighting arthritis, bacterial infections, and a variety of other diseases. — MTS

Extreme Instruments

Scientific instrument makers, often-hidden contributors to great scientific revolutions of the past, now are focusing on development of a new generation of the third most common instrument found in modern chemistry labs, according to an article scheduled for the April 28 issue of Chemical & Engineering News (C&EN), ACS’s weekly news magazine.

These so-called “liquid chromatography” machines rank behind only the laboratory scale and the pH meter as chemistry’s ubiquitous instrument, Senior Editor Mitch Jacoby notes in the C&EN cover story. Chemists use chromatography to analyze complex solutions of chemicals in the search for better medicines, more durable materials, and in a range of other research.

Instrument makers are responding to a critical need for faster, more powerful versions of one particular tool, termed high performance liquid chromatography, or “HPLC,” where the “P” also often can stand for “pressure,” the article says. Jacoby describes the quest for new generations of HPLC tools with the ability to separate chemicals faster and more precisely than ever before. “Extreme” HPLC instruments already are speeding laboratory work in drug companies and other settings, with even better instruments on the horizon, the article suggests.

Journalists’ Resources

  • Press releases, chat room sessions, and more from ACS’ 235th National Meeting

It’s never too late to explore a treasure trove of news sources, background material and story ideas available from the ACS' latest National Meeting, which was held in New Orleans from April 6-10, 2008. Reporters can view press releases, search an archive with abstracts of 9,000 scientific presentations and hundreds of non-technical summaries of those presentations, and access other resources at: www.eurekalert.org/acsmeet.php.

The ACS Office of Communications also offers recorded video versions of its national meeting “chat room” briefings and accompanying chat transcripts by going to http://www.ustream.tv/channel/acs-live-from-new-orleans. To use this site, you must first register with Ustream.tv by going to http://ustream.tv/sign-up-step-1. It’s free and only takes a minute or two to sign up. To view the archived chat room sessions, proceed by clicking the “Login” button at the top right of the Ustream window and then selecting “Past Clips.” Please note that Ustream requires the latest version of Adobe Flash, which can be downloaded without charge at http://www.adobe.com/products/flashplayer.

  • ChemMatters Matters for Journalists

This quarterly ACS magazine for high school chemistry students, teachers, and others explains the chemistry that underpins everyday life in a lively, understandable fashion. ChemMatters is available at www.acs.org/chemmatters. You can also receive the most recent issues by contacting the editor, Pat Pages, at: 202-872-6164 or chemmatters@acs.org.

  • ACS Press Releases

General science press releases on a variety of chemistry-related topics.

For Wired Readers

  • Bytesize Science, a podcast for young listeners

Bytesize Science is a science podcast for kids of all ages that aims to entertain as much as it educates.

No iTunes? No problem. Listen to latest episodes of Bytesize Science in your web browser

  • Science Elements: An ACS Science News Podcast
    The ACS Office of Communications is podcasting PressPac contents in order to make cutting-edge scientific discoveries from ACS journals available to a broad public audience at no charge.
  • ACS News



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