FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

ACS News Service Weekly PressPac: Wed Jul 29 16:42:03 EDT 2009

Note to Journalists and Other Viewers

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.

News Items in this Edition

Reexamination of T. rex verifies disputed biochemical remains

A new analysis of the remains of a Tyrannosaurus rex (T. rex) that roamed Earth 68 million years ago has confirmed traces of protein from blood and bone, tendons, or cartilage. The findings, scheduled for publication in the Sept. 4 issue of ACS’ monthly Journal of Proteome Research, is the latest addition to an ongoing controversy over which biochemical remnants can be detected in the dino.

In the study, Marshall Bern, Brett S. Phinney and David Goldberg point out that the first analysis in 2007 of a well-preserved, fossilized T. rex bone identified traces of seven distinct protein fragments, or peptides, from collagen. That material is one of the primary components of bone, tendons and other connective tissue. However, later studies disputed that finding, suggesting that it was a statistical fluke or the result of contamination from another laboratory sample.

The scientists describe reanalysis of the T. rex data and also report finding evidence of substances found in collagen. “In summary, we find nothing obviously wrong with the Tyrannosaurus rex [analysis from 2007],” the report states. “The identified peptides seem consistent with a sample containing old, quite possibly very ancient, bird-like bone, contaminated with only fairly explicable proteins. Hemoglobin and collagen are plausible proteins to find in fossil bone, because they are two of the most abundant proteins in bone and bone marrow.”

“Artificial Golgi” may provide new insight into key cell structure

empty
A new analysis of the remains of a T. rex has
confirmed trace of protein from blood and bone,
tendons, or cartilage.

Scientists in New York and North Carolina are reporting assembly of the first functioning prototype of an artificial Golgi organelle. That key structure inside cells helps process and package hormones, enzymes, and other substances that allow the body to function normally. The lab-on-a-chip device could lead to a faster and safer method for producing heparin, the widely used anticoagulant or blood thinner, the researchers note. Their study is scheduled for the Aug. 12 issue of the Journal of the American Chemical Society, a weekly publication.

The Golgi organelle is named for Camillo Golgi, the Italian scientist and Nobel Prize winner who discovered the structure in 1898. It is composed of a network of sacs, stacked like a deck of playing cards, located inside cells. In the new study, Robert Linhardt and colleagues point out that Golgi bodies are one of the most poorly understood organelles (specialized structures inside cells) in the human body. Scientists already know, however, that the organelles play a key role in producing heparin, a substance that helps prevent clotting.

The researchers describe development of a prototype lab-on-a-chip device that closely mimics the natural Golgi apparatus. They showed in lab tests that the device could quickly and efficiently produce heparin. It did so in an assembly-line fashion using a combination of enzymes, sugars and other raw materials and demonstrated that the substance has a strong clot-fighting potential. In the future, an “artificial Golgi” could lead to a faster and safer method for producing heparin, the scientists suggest.

A “shrimp cocktail” to fuel cars and trucks

empty
Researchers have developed an artificial version
of the Golgi organelle, shown in this illustration of
a cell cross-section. The device could lead to a
better method for producing heparin, they say.

Call it a “shrimp cocktail” for your fuel tank. Scientists in China are reporting development of a catalyst made from shrimp shells that could transform production of biodiesel fuel into a faster, less expensive, and more environmentally friendly process. Their study is scheduled for the Aug. 20 issue of ACS’ Energy & Fuels, a bi-monthly journal.

Xinsheng Zheng and colleagues note that an energy-hungry world, concerned about global warming, increasingly puts its future fuel hopes on renewable fuels like biodiesel. Today’s biodiesel production processes, however, require catalysts to speed up the chemical reactions that transform soybean, canola, and other plant oils into diesel fuel. Traditional catalysts cannot be reused and must be neutralized with large amounts of water — another increasingly scarce resource — leaving behind large amounts of polluted wastewater.

The researchers describe development of a new catalyst produced from shrimp shells. In laboratory tests, the shrimp shell catalysts converted canola oil to biodiesel (89 percent conversion in three hours) faster and more efficiently than some conventional catalysts. The new catalysts also can be reused and the process minimizes waste production and pollution, the scientists note.

Improving ceramic armor to protect the Armed Forces

empty
A substance made from shrimp shells may
transform biodiesel production into a faster, less
expensive, and more eco-friendly process,
researchers are reporting.

A new generation of ceramic armor for soldiers and vehicles may substantially reduce casualties among the Armed Forces in the future, according to an article in the current issue of Chemical & Engineering News (C&EN), ACS’ weekly newsmagazine.

C&EN senior editor Sophie Rovner notes in the article that humans used ceramic as far back as 24,000 B.C. to create decorative figurines. Today, ceramic is widely used as a component in soldiers’ “flak jackets” to protect them against bullets and shrapnel. Ceramic armor is also found on some U.S. combat vehicles to protect soldiers from hidden threats such as improvised explosive devices (IEDs). One of the main advantages of using ceramic in armored vehicles is weight: The material weighs 50 percent less than traditional steel armor and can help make vehicles quicker and more maneuverable.

But ceramic also has shortcomings. It is more difficult to mold into complex shapes than metal and is also more costly. Researchers are hard at work trying to understand its properties, improve its performance, and reduce its costs. With the help of new composites and computer modeling technology, scientists are transforming the ancient material to a modern wonder that can be constantly upgraded to match the next type of weapon, the article notes.

Journalists’ Resources

  • Save the Date: ACS August National Meeting
    Join more than 11,000 scientists expected to gather in Washington, D. C., Aug. 16-20 for one of the year’s largest and most important scientific conferences. The 238th National Meeting of the American Chemical Society will feature 8,000 reports on new discoveries about chemistry, medicine, health, food, fuels, the environment and other topics. For advance complimentary news media registration: https://www.xpressreg.net/register/acsf089/media/start.asp.
  • Special National Meeting News Media Briefing and Reception
    What better time than mid-August for a science-based briefing on the myths and facts, the dos and don’ts, about grilling and barbequing meat, fish, and veggies — accompanied by foods right off the grill and ice cold beverages? World-renowned food chemists Sara Risch, Ph.D., and Shirley Corriher (also an award-winning cookbook author), will deliver the briefing in the Washington Convention Center at 6:30 p.m. on Aug. 17. All registered news media are invited to attend the reception, which is likely to produce news and feature material.
  • Writing on Green Chemistry?
    Here is a treasure trove of some of the most significant scientific research articles published in 2008.
    http://pubs.acs.org/stoken/presspac/presspac/full/10.1021/op900082k
  • Press releases, briefings, and more from ACS’ 237th National Meeting
    http://www.eurekalert.org/acsmeet.php

    http://www.ustream.tv/channel/acslive
  • Must-reads from C&EN: Government gives a jump-start for battery makers
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • ACS satellite pressroom: 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. To receive press room updates, create a free account at https://twitter.com/signup. Then visit http://twitter.com/ACSpressroom and click the ‘join’ button beneath the press room logo.
  • ACS Press Releases

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

  • New Web site on everyday chemicals
    Whether you want to learn more about caffeine, benzoyl peroxide (acne treatment), sodium chloride (table salt), or some other familiar chemical, CAS Common Chemistry can help. The new Web site provides non-chemists and others with useful information about everyday chemicals by searching either a chemical name or a corresponding CAS Registry Number. The site currently contains approximately 7,800 chemicals of general interest as well as all 118 elements from the periodic table, providing alternative names, molecular structures, a Wikipedia link, and other information.
  • 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

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. Subscribe at iTunes or listen and access other resources at the ACS web site www.acs.org/GlobalChallenges.
  • 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, with new video podcasts and some episodes available in Spanish. Subscribe to Bytesize Science in iTunes using 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.
  • SciFinder® Podcasts
    Interested in healthful plant phytochemicals, nanotechnology, or green chemistry? Check out the SciFinder series of podcasts, which explore a vast array of current interest topics and new discoveries in the 21st century. The SciFinder podcasts are available in English, Chinese, Japanese, and Portuguese.

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.