ACS News Service Weekly PressPac: Wed Apr 01 16:42:03 EDT 2009

Note to Journalists and Other Viewers

Here is the latest American Chemical Society (ACS) Weekly PressPac from the Office of Public Affairs. It has news from ACS’ 34 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 Office of Public Affairs 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.

News Items in this Edition

The biochemical buzz on career changes in bees

Adults facing unexpected career changes, take note. Scientists from Brazil and Cuba are reporting that honey bees — a mainstay for behavioral research that cannot be done in other animals — change their brains before transitioning to that new job. Published in the current edition of ACS’ monthly Journal of Proteome Research, the research provides valuable insight into the biochemistry behind the behavior, feats of navigation, and social organization in these animals.

In the study, Marcelo Valle de Sousa and colleagues point out that worker bees begin adult life by performing tasks in the nest such as brood nursing. By 2-3 weeks of age, however, these females — equivalent to middle age in human years —switch to foraging for nectar and pollen. Foraging requires a new skill set that includes uncanny ability to navigate to and from feeding sites, communicating the location of food to other bees, and flights of hundreds of miles in a lifetime.

The researchers collected and analyzed hundreds of bee brains, comparing the proteins scripted by the genes in nurses and foragers in order to find proteins related to the genetic and behavioral shifts during these career transitions. The brains of nurse bees have higher levels of certain “royal jelly” proteins involved in caste determination. Experienced foragers, in contrast, over expressed proteins linked to energy production and other activities.

“Our study demonstrated clear brain proteome differences between honey bee nurse and forager subcastes with distinct social roles,” the study says. - AD.

“Magic potion” in fly spit may shoo away blinding eye disease

Journal Information

Journal: Proteome Research

Journal Article: “Proteomic Analysis of Honey Bee Brain upon Ontogenetic and Behavioral Development”

Researchers are reporting the first identification of a “magic potion” of proteins in the saliva of the black fly that help this blood-sucking pest spread parasites that cause “river blindness,” a devastating eye-disease. A better understanding of these proteins may lead to better drugs and a vaccine for river blindness and other diseases spread by biting insects. Also known as onchocerciasis, river blindness affects more than 17 million people worldwide, particularly in rural Africa. The report appears in the current edition of ACS’ Journal of Proteome Research, a monthly publication.

In the new study, JosÉ M.C. Ribeiro and colleagues explain that the saliva of adult female black flies contains substances that mute the human body’s natural defenses. This chemical cocktail makes the body more vulnerable to disease when infected flies bite into the skin. Until now, however, nobody had identified the specific chemicals involved in this devious action.

The scientists collected salivary glands from hundreds of adult female black flies and isolated the proteins using high-tech analytical gear. They identified 72 different proteins, including several new to science. These proteins could serve as the basis for developing drugs or vaccines against diseases transmitted by the black fly and other blood-sucking insects, including mosquitoes, midges, and sand flies, the researchers say. – MTS

New gas storage material: One ounce has surface area of 30 football fields

Journal Information

Journal: Proteome Research

Journal Article: “Insight into the Sialome of the Black Fly, Simulium vittatum”

In a finding that may help speed the production of ultra-clean fuel cell vehicles powered by hydrogen, scientists in Michigan are reporting development of a sponge-like nanomaterial with a record-high surface area for holding gases. Just 1/30th of an ounce of the material has the approximate surface area of a football field. Their study is scheduled for the April 1 issue of the Journal of the American Chemical Society, a weekly publication.

Adam Matzger and colleagues note in the new study that scientists have tried for years to find a material to optimize hydrogen storage in futuristic fuel cell vehicles. Despite identifying several promising materials, researchers have been unable to meet the hydrogen storage goals proposed by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) for hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, they state.

They describe development of a highly-porous nanomaterial with an unprecedented ability to absorb gases that may help meet DOE’s target. Called University of Michigan Crystalline Material-2 (UMCM-2), it consists of zinc oxide nanoclusters — each about 1/50,000 the width of a human hair — linked together by organic materials to generate a robust porous framework. The scientists showed that UMCM-2 has a surface area exceeding 5,000 square meters per gram which is, they say, the highest value ever achieved. - MTS.

Boost energy production from “ice that burns”

Journal Information

Journal: The American Chemical Society

Journal Article: “A Porous Coordination Copolymer with over 5000 m2/g BET Surface Area”

In a step toward using gas hydrates as a future energy source, researchers in New York are reporting the first identification of an optimal temperature and pressure range for maximizing production of natural gas from the icy hydrate material. Their study appears in the March 18 issue of ACS’ Industrial & Engineering Chemistry Research, a bi-weekly journal.

Marco Castaldi, Yue Zhou, and Tuncel Yegualp note that gas hydrates, also known as “ice that burns,” are a frozen form of natural gas (methane). This material exists in vast deposits beneath the ocean floor and Arctic permafrost in the United States and other areas. Scientists believe that fuel from these frozen chunks, formed at cold temperatures and high pressures, may help fuel cars, heat homes, and power factories in the future. Although scientists have identified several different methods for extracting the fuel, including depressurization, researchers have not found an practical approach for producing the gas on an industrial scale.

To reach this goal, the researchers built what they believe to be the world’s largest experimental reactor, filled with sand, water, and methane, to simulate the formation gas hydrates (at low temperatures and high pressure) and production of the gas. While depressurizing the hydrates to free the methane, they observed an optimal boost in gas production between a narrow range of temperatures and pressures. Maintaining gas production at these settings could be a key step in boosting production of methane at an industrial scale, the researchers suggest. - MTS

Bonanza of new oral drugs offers hope for MS patients

Journal Information

Journal: Industrial & Engineering Chemistry Research

“Experimental Investigation of Methane Gas Production from Methane Hydrate”

Years of scientific research on multiple sclerosis (MS) are showing signs of paying off, with almost a dozen potential new drugs in the final stages of clinical trials and moving toward pharmacy shelves, according to an article scheduled for the April 6 issue of Chemical & Engineering News, ACS’ weekly newsmagazine. Those drugs could double the number of medications available to treat MS — which affects about 400,000 people in the United States — over the next several years.

In the article, C&EN senior editor Lisa Jarvis explains that MS is a disease in which the immune system attacks myelin, a protective coating on many nerve fibers. This attack triggers a slowly worsening host of symptoms. Twenty years ago, few effective medicines were available for these patients.

Many of the new drugs are pills rather than injectable medicines, making it easier for patients to take the medication over long periods of time. Most of the drugs ease the immune system damage to myelin or offer protection to already-damaged nerves.

Journalists’ Resources

  • Press releases, briefings, and more from ACS’ March National Meeting
  • Must-reads from C&EN: Paper-like material could be used for flexible electronics
    In an advance toward the long-sought goal of flexible electronics for E-newspapers and other futuristic displays, researchers in Japan are reporting development of a transparent paper-like material composed of nano-sized fibers of cellulose. The material is renewable and has strength and temperature stability that rivals or exceeds that of glass or plastic for use in electronics. To learn about this amazing new material, check out this must-read article in Chemical & Engineering News.
  • Resources for Covering Earth Day 2009
    The American Chemical Society’s (ACS) observance of Earth Day on April 22 – Chemists Celebrate Earth Day 2009 – will include community events focused on the theme, “Air — The Sky’s the Limit” based on understanding and protecting the planet’s atmosphere. For Earth Day 2009, ACS is sponsoring an illustrated haiku poetry contest about environmental chemistry for children in grades K-12 and a “Reduce Your Carbon Footprint” community program for children across the nation. Other events include presentations on global warming, the benefits of wind power and other educational projects. Check for details about Earth Day activities.
  • New ACS pressroom blog
    The American Chemical Society’s Office of Public Affairs (OPA) has created a new pressroom blog to highlight prominent research from ACS’ 34 journals. The blog includes daily commentary on the latest news from the weekly PressPac, including video and audio segments from researchers on topics covering chemistry and related sciences, including nanotechnology, food science, materials science and the environment. The pressroom blog will also cover updates on ACS’ awards, the national meetings and other general news from the world’s largest scientific society.
  • New Bytesize Science blog
    Educators and kids, put on your thinking caps: The American Chemical Society has a new blog for Bytesize Science, a science podcast for kids of all ages. The Bytesize blog contains entertaining video podcasts and audio episodes of the latest and greatest news from the frontiers of chemistry, including a video detailing a discovery about the bug-eating pitcher plant and an audio episode on a new use for magnolia tree bark.
  • Join the ACS satellite pressroom for daily news blasts on Twitter
    The American Chemical Society’s Office of Public Affairs (OPA) new satellite press room has quickly become one of the most popular science news sites on Twitter with daily updates on the latest research from ACS’ 34 peer-reviewed journals and other news, including links to compelling podcast series, information on the upcoming 237th National Meeting, and the latest recipients of ACS’ national awards. To receive press room updates, create a free account at Then visit and click the ‘join’ button beneath the press room logo.
  • ACS Press Releases

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

  • From Chemical Abstracts Service (CAS)

CAS - Science Connections is a series of articles that showcases the value of CAS databases in light of important general-interest science and technology news. Ranging in topics from fruit flies to Nobel Prize winners, the CAS - Science Connections series points to the CAS databases for a more complete understanding of the latest news.

  • Save the Date: Green Chemistry conference on sustainability begins June 23
    Jean-Michel Cousteau, noted explorer, film-producer and environmentalist, and Len Sauers, Ph.D., Vice President of Global Sustainability for The Procter & Gamble Company, are the featured keynote speakers at the upcoming 13th annual Green Chemistry & Engineering Conference in June in College Park, Md. The focus of this year’s conference, June 23-25 at the Marriott Inn and Conference Center, is on progress made toward research objectives identified in the National Academy of Sciences’ 2006 report, “Sustainability in the Chemical Industry: Grand Challenges and Research Needs.” Sauers will address the convention on June 24, Cousteau on June 25. For more information on the conference, please visit

For Wired Readers

  • Global Challenges/Chemistry Solutions
    Don’t miss this special series of ACS podcasts on some of the 21st Century’s most daunting challenges, and how cutting-edge research in chemistry matters in the quest for solutions. This sweeping panorama of challenges includes topics such as providing a hungry, thirsty world with ample supplies of safe food and clean water; developing alternatives to petroleum to fuel the global economy; preserving the environment and assuring a sustainable future for our children; and improving human health. An ongoing saga of chemistry for life — chemistry that truly matters — Global Challenges will continue in 2009. Subscribe at iTunes or listen and access other resources at the ACS web site
  • 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. Subscribe to Bytesize Science in iTunes 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 Public Affairs is podcasting PressPac contents in order to make cutting-edge scientific discoveries from ACS journals available to a broad public audience at no charge. Subscribe to Science Elements using iTunes. Listen to the latest episodes of Science Elements in your web browser.

More ACS News

PressPac information is intended for your personal use in news gathering and reporting and should not be distributed to others. Anyone using advance PressPac information for stocks or securities dealing may be guilty of insider trading under the federal Securities Exchange Act of 1934.

The American Chemical Society is a nonprofit organization chartered by the U.S. Congress. With more than 154,000 members, ACS is the world’s largest scientific society 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: “Hope in a pill”

This story will be available on April 6.