Here is the latest American Chemical Society (ACS) Office of Public Affairs Weekly PressPac with 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.
Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry
Journal Article: “Stress Repression in Restrained Rats by (R)-(–)-Linalool Inhalation and Gene Expression Profiling of Their Whole Blood Cells”
Feeling stressed? Then try savoring the scent of lemon, mango, lavender, or other fragrant plants. Scientists in Japan are reporting the first scientific evidence that inhaling certain fragrances alter gene activity and blood chemistry in ways that can reduce stress levels. Their study appears in ACS’ Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, a bi-weekly publication.
In the new study, Akio Nakamura and colleagues note that people have inhaled the scent of certain plants since ancient times to help reduce stress, fight inflammation and depression, and induce sleep. Aromatherapy, the use of fragrant plant oils to improve mood and health, has become a popular form of alternative medicine today. And linalool is one of the most widely used substances to soothe away emotional stress. Until now, however, linalool’s exact effects on the body have been a deep mystery.
The scientists exposed lab rats to stressful conditions while inhaling and not inhaling linalool. Linalool returned stress-elevated levels of neutrophils and lymphocytes — key parts of the immune system — to near-normal levels. Inhaling linalool also reduced the activity of more than 100 genes that go into overdrive in stressful situations. The findings could form the basis of new blood tests for identifying fragrances that can soothe stress, the researchers say.
Fingerprints¬ move over. Scientists are reporting evidence that people have another defining trait that may distinguish each of the 6.7 billion humans on Earth from one another almost as surely as the arches, loops, and whorls on their fingertips. In a study scheduled for the Aug. 7 issue of ACS’ monthly publication the Journal of Proteome Research, they report evidence from studies in humans for the existence of unique patterns in metabolism.
Metabolism is a whole caboodle of chemical processes. Metabolism enables the body to turn food into energy, grow, repair damage from diseases and injuries, use medicines, and carry out other functions necessary to continue living. In the new study, Ivano Bertini and colleagues cite growing evidence that each individual has a unique metabolic profile. It’s a biochemical counterpart to fingerprints that can be detected by analyzing the chemical whorls and grooves that result from metabolism and can be detected in the urine.
Doctors have dreamed of using such tests for the early diagnosis of disease and personalized medical care. They could pick drugs and treatments that are best for each individual, rather than today’s one-size-fits all medicine. To do so, however, doctors need evidence that the metabolic fingerprint remains stable over a period of years, with changes due to disease or medications, for instance, but not advancing age or other factors. The new study provides that evidence, based on the analysis of over 1,800 urine samples from people monitored for 2-3 years. Researchers could identify individual patients from their metabolic profiles with an accuracy of over 99 percent. The study could pave the way for using metabolic profiling to apply personalized medical care, the researchers suggest.
Scientists in Nevada are reporting development of a new and environmentally friendly process for producing biodiesel fuel from “chicken feather meal,” made from the 11 billion pounds of poultry industry waste that accumulate annually in the United States alone. Their study is scheduled for the July 22 issue of ACS’ Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, a bi-weekly publication.
In the study Mano Misra, Susanta Mohapatra, Narasimharao Kondamudi, and Jason Strull note that chicken feather meal consists of processed chicken feathers, blood, and innards that have been processed at high temperatures with steam. Currently feather meal is used as animal feed and fertilizer because of its high protein and nitrogen content. With as much as 12 percent fat content, feather meal has potential as an alternative, nonfood feedstock for the production of biofuel, the report says.
The researchers describe a new process for extracting fat from chicken feather meal using boiling water and processing it into biodiesel. Given the amount of feather meal generated by the poultry industry each year, they estimate this process could create 153 million gallons of biodiesel annually in the U.S. and 593 million gallons worldwide. In addition, they note that removal of fat content from feather meal results in both a higher-grade animal feed and a better nitrogen source for fertilizer applications.
Scientists in India are reporting successful laboratory tests of a new and potentially safer alternative to silver-based gels applied to the skin of burn patients to treat infections. With names like silver sulfadiazine and silver nitrate, these germ-fighters save lives and speed healing. The researchers describe gel composed of silver nanoparticles — each 1/50,000th the width of a human hair — that appears more effective than these traditional gels. Their study is scheduled for the Aug. 3 issue of ACS’ Molecular Pharmaceutics, a bi-monthly journal.
Kishore Paknikar and colleagues note that antimicrobial silver compounds have been used for decades on burn patients, whose damaged skin is highly vulnerable to bacterial infections. However, topical silver agents now in use can loose effectiveness in the body, cause skin discoloration, and damage cells. Drug-resistant bacteria can make these treatments less effective.
The scientists demonstrated that their gel killed a broad range of harmful bacteria, including Pseudomonas aeruginosa, one of the most common causes of burn infections, as well as several drug-resistant microbes. The gel, which contains 30 times less silver than silver sulfadiazine, did not have any apparent toxic effects when applied to the healthy skin of test animals. “These results clearly indicate that silver nanoparticles could provide a safer alternative to conventional antimicrobial agents in the form of a topical antimicrobial formulation,” the article states.
With protein-based drugs poised for an expanding role in treating arthritis, cancer, and other diseases, scientists are providing drug developers with long-awaited tools for understanding how these drugs battle disease, cause side-effects and act in other ways in the body. That’s the topic of the cover story of the current issue of Chemical & Engineering News, ACS’ weekly newsmagazine.
C&EN associate editor Jyllian Kemsley notes in the article that protein-based drugs are large, complex molecules derived from living sources, such as humans, animals, and bacteria. Most other drugs are so-called “small molecules” with a simpler makeup. Protein drugs already have staked out a key role in medical care and will become more important in the future. In 2008, for instance, they accounted for four of the 15 best-selling drugs in the United States. All drugs must be proven safe and effective before going into general use, and a limited understanding of how proteins behave in the body hinders that task for scientists developing protein-based drugs.
The article describes how chemists are developing new tools and techniques that make it easier and faster to study the structure and function of these complex drugs. “Nobody ever said that analyzing biologic drugs was going to be easy,” the article notes. “But as analytical technology continues to advance, the goal of better understanding the workings of biologics is coming ever closer to realization.”
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.