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ACS News Service Weekly PressPac: Wed Oct 28 16:42:03 EDT 2009

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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

Pumpkin skin may scare away germs

The skin of that pumpkin you carve into a Jack-o’-Lantern to scare away ghosts and goblins on Halloween contains a substance that could put a scare into microbes that cause millions of cases of yeast infections in adults and infants each year.

That’s the conclusion of a new study in the current issue of ACS’ Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, a bi-weekly publication.

In the study, Kyung-Soo Hahm, Yoonkyung Park and colleagues note that some disease-causing microbes are becoming resistant to existing antibiotics.

As a result, scientists worldwide are searching for new antibiotics. Past studies hinted that pumpkin, long used as folk medicine in some countries, might have antibiotic effects.

The scientists extracted proteins from pumpkin rinds to see if the proteins inhibit the growth of microbes, including Candida albicans (C. albicans).

That fungus causes vaginal yeast infections, diaper rash in infants, and other health problems.

One protein had powerful effects in inhibiting the growth of C. albicans, in cell culture experiments, with no obvious toxic effects.

The pumpkin protein could be developed into a natural medicine for fighting yeast infections in humans, the report suggests.

The protein also blocked the growth of several fungi that attack important plant crops and could be useful as an agricultural fungicide, they add.

Journal of Agricultural
and Food Chemistry

Where does it come from? Scientists in Arizona are reporting a surprising answer to that question, which has puzzled and perplexed generations of men and women confronted with layers of dust on furniture and floors. Most of indoor dust comes from outdoors. Their report is scheduled for the Nov. 1 issue of ACS’ Environmental Science & Technology, a semi-monthly journal.

In the study, David Layton and Paloma Beamer point out that household dust consists of a potpourri that includes dead skin shed by people, fibers from carpets and upholstered furniture, and tracked-in soil and airborne particles blown in from outdoors. It can include lead, arsenic and other potentially harmful substances that migrate indoors from outside air and soil. That can be a special concern for children, who consume those substances by putting dust-contaminated toys and other objects into their mouths.


The scientists describe development and use on homes in the Midwest of a computer model that can track distribution of contaminated soil and airborne particulates into residences from outdoors. They found that over 60 percent of house dust originates outdoors. They estimated that nearly 60 percent of the arsenic in floor dust could come from arsenic in the surrounding air, with the remainder derived from tracked-in soil. The researchers point out the model could be used to evaluate methods for reducing contaminants in dust and associated human exposures.


Answer to that age-old lament: Where does all this dust come from?

Scientists in Switzerland are reporting results of one of the first studies on the release of silver nanoparticles from laundering those anti-odor, anti-bacterial socks now on the market. Their findings, scheduled for the Nov. 1 issue of ACS’ journal Environmental Science & Technology, may suggest ways that manufacturers and consumers can minimize the release of these particles to the environment, where they could harm fish and other wildlife.

In the study, Bernd Nowack and colleagues note that widespread use of silver nanoparticles in consumer products, especially textiles, likely results in the distribution of nanoparticles in lakes and streams. Manufacturers favor silver nanoparticles because of their antibacterial action, which slows the growth of odor-causing bacteria. The scientists studied release of nanoparticles in laundry water from nine different textiles, including different brands of commercially available anti-odor socks. Previous studies laundered socks, but in pure distilled water.

They found that most of the released particles were relatively large and that most came out of the fabrics during the first wash. The total released varied from 1.3 to 35 percent of the total nanosilver in the fabric. Bleach generally did not affect the amount released. “These results have important implications for the risk assessment of silver textiles and also for environmental fate studies of nanosilver, because they show that under certain conditions relevant to washing, primarily coarse silver-containing particles are released,” the paper says.

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Environmental Science
& Technology

Scientists in California are reporting development of a new generation of the microcapsules used in carbon-free copy paper, in which capsules burst and release ink with pressure from a pen. The new microcapsules burst when exposed to light, releasing their contents in ways that could have wide-ranging commercial uses from home and personal care to medicine. Their study appears in the Journal of the American Chemical Society, a weekly publication.

Jean FrÉchet, Alex Zettl and colleagues note that liquid-filled microcapsules have many other uses, including self-healing plastics. Those plastics contain one group of microscapsules filled with monomer and another with a catalyst. When scratches rip open the capsules, the contents flow, mix, and form a seal. Microcapsules that burst open when exposed to light would have great advantages, the scientists say. Light could be focused to a pinpoint to kill cancer cells, for instance, or shined over a large area to print a pattern.

The scientists report the first evidence that CNTs penetrate the hard outer coating of seeds, and have beneficial effects. Nanotube-exposed seeds sprouted up to two times faster than control seeds and the seedlings weighed more than twice as much as the untreated plants. Those effects may occur because nanotubes penetrate the seed coat and boost water uptake, the researchers state. “This observed positive effect of CNTs on the seed germination could have significant economic importance for agriculture, horticulture, and the energy sector, such as for production of biofuels,” they add.


Knocking nanoparticles off the socks

Bold new strategies in the battle against cancer may turn forms of the disease that presently are incurable into manageable conditions that can be controlled for long periods of time, according to an article in the current issue of Chemical & Engineering News, ACS’ weekly newsmagazine.

empty

C&EN Senior Editor Lisa Jarvis notes that “molecularly targeted” drugs are having a major impact in treating cancer of the breast, colon, and other body parts. Those medications interfere with specific molecules involved in cancer’s growth and spread. However, further advances are critical.

One new strategy involves cutting off cancer cells’ supply of blood sugar, or glucose, and thus starving them to death. Another uses RNA interference, a form of gene therapy in which short RNA segments serve as medication to block the genes involved in cancer. Although scientists face major hurdles in developing effective methods for administering RNA-based medicines, they are making rapid progress in doing so.


Environmental Science
& Technology

  • Press releases, briefings, and more from ACS’ 238th National Meeting
    http://www.eurekalert.org/acsmeet.php

    http://www.ustream.tv/channel/acslive
  • Must-reads from C&EN: Silly String is much more than a Halloween spray
    The sticky ribbons of spray known as Stilly String are no longer just a kids’ toy. They have carved out a new role as a weapon in war. U.S. Navy Explosive Ordnance Disposal teams, who diffuse and dispose of explosives, have been using Silly String to find booby traps, most recently in Afghanistan. So exactly what is this versatile can of goo made of? To find out, go to silly string.
  • Writing on Green Chemistry?
    Here is a treasure trove of important scientific research articles published in 2008.
    http://pubs.acs.org/stoken/presspac/presspac/full/10.1021/op900082k

  • 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
    Press releases
    on a variety of chemistry-related topics.
  • General Chemistry Glossary
  • Chemical Abstracts Service (CAS) 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 includes about 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.
  • Science Connections from 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. Topics range 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.

Next-generation microcapsules deliver “chemicals on demand”

  • Bytesize Science, a podcast for young listeners
    Bytesize Science is a science podcast for kids of all ages that entertains and educates, with new high-definition 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.
  • Global Challenges/Chemistry Solutions
    This special series of ACS podcasts on some of the 21st Century’s most daunting challenges, and how and how chemists and other scientists are finding solutions. Subscribe at iTunes or listen and access other resources at the ACS web site www.acs.org/GlobalChallenges.
  • Science Elements: Science Elements is a podcast of PressPac contents that makes cutting-edge scientific discoveries from ACS journals available to a broader public audience. 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.