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What would you say if someone told you that one of the best things you could eat with a nice glass of certain red wines would be a fatty burger?

It wouldn’t hurt to try it with filet mignon, either, but there is something special about that burger that will probably surprise you.

According to a report in ACS’ journal Langmuir, lipids (fats) in certain foods match up well with wines high in tannins (polyphenols, or antioxidants) to produce a smooth-tasting beverage. Such wines are Cabernet Sauvignon, Petite Sirah, Montepulciano, Tempranillo, Petit Verdot and Nebbiolo, all reds.

 

This interaction is critical to the taste of the wine because the fats interfere with the tannins’ ability to mix with saliva and create a bitter taste, says Julie Géan, Ph.D., who is the study team leader. So any foods with a significant amount of lipids would work well with these high-tannin red wines. Studies have shown that tannins from red grape seeds and skins are known to play an important part in taste since they contribute to red wine astringency, a dry and rough sensation in the mouth.

 

“Based on our study, we can assume that fats present in meat, fish and cheese could interact with tannins when you drink wine,” said Géan, who is with Université Bordeaux, Pessac, France.

 

This study is unique because of its close examination of interactions between the tannins and the lipids and their effect on the wine taste and “feel,” she said. Researchers had studied astringency and the tannin-saliva interaction widely, but little was known about interactions between tannins and lipids and their implications for tasting wine. In addition, the influence of food on the flavor and dryness of wine is well known by consumers, but has not been examined at the molecular level, according to Géan.

 

That is, we know that cheese goes well with a nice Petite Sirah, but we just haven’t known why –– until this study. So with what you now know, how about trying a glass of red with a double cheeseburger?

Red Wine Tannins Fluidify and Precipitate Lipid Liposomes and Bicelles. A Role for Lipids in Wine Tasting?

 

cheeseburgerwinesmaller.jpg

Click here for the abstract.

*Journalists can request a PDF of the journal article by emailing
newsroom@acs.org

The nerve gas sarin was released on several subway lines in Tokyo in 1995 in a terrorist attack. Thirteen people died, and many more had severe injuries. But while such an incident is going on, how do you determine what’s happening and what might be in the air?

 

SensorCrop.jpgSomeday, first responders might come onto the scene and, after evacuating everyone, release a bunch of beetles with tiny, thin sensors on them into the subway stations. As the beetles make their way into the stations, the sensors would wirelessly report back whether sarin gas or some other agent is present.

 

That’s what Jang-Ung Park and colleagues envision. They are developing futuristic thin, flexible electronic devices that could attach onto leaves, insects, clothes or human skin to monitor environmental conditions or even someone’s health status.

 

The researchers, who are at the Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology and Korea Electrotechnology Research Institute, report in ACS’ journal Nano Letters that they’ve come up with a simple, inexpensive way to make the sensors.

 

They are using carbon-based materials — graphite and carbon nanotubes — instead of silicon, which is traditionally used to make electronic circuits.

 

“The fabrication and processing can be much cheaper with our sensors because the entire device can be chemically synthesized in a single step, and carbon is also much less expensive than silicon,” says Park.

 

Sensor2.jpgSilicon-based electronics are brittle and rigid, but the carbon-based sensors that Park’s team is making are flexible. The sensors can even bend around a thin optical fiber without breaking. They also can stick to living things, like skin, bugs and plants, without adding an adhesive.

 

They tested their sensors by putting them onto the leaf of a “lucky bamboo” plant and onto the backs of “stag beetles.” The sensors performed well, detecting DMMP, which is similar to sarin, within seconds. 

 

The authors acknowledge funding from the Basic Science Research Program of the National Research Foundation of Korea, IT R&D Program, Materials Original Technology Program and Technology Innovation Program.

 

 

What do you think? Is this feasible? What other applications can you think of for these sensors, aside from detecting harmful gases?

 

 

“In-situ Synthesis of Carbon Nanotube–Graphite Electronic Devices and Their Integrations onto Surfaces of Live Plants and Insects”

 

Click here for the abstract.

 

*Journalists can request a PDF of the journal article by emailing newsroom@acs.org.

 

Credit for both images: American Chemical Society

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For a strawberry-lover there’s nothing better than picking that sweet, dark red piece of fruit right off the bush and popping it into your mouth. Well, maybe strawberries and cream would be nice, too. And then there’s strawberry jam slathered on a nice piece of buttered toast. Wait: How about a big slice of strawberry pie? 

Just when you think it can’t get any better for your strawberry desserts, there’s new, exciting research on your favorite fruit. Scientists are breeding the better berry. So far these super-good strawberries appear to have more healthful antioxidants and a sweeter flavor than your standard red berry of the same name in grocery stores. Another advantage of their process is that it involves natural breeding to develop new varieties and does not produce “genetically modified,” or GMO, strawberries, avoiding this controversial technique.


According to a report in the ACS’ Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, strawberries are an excellent source of vitamins, minerals, dietary fiber and flavonoids, a rich source of antioxidants. Numerous studies have linked eating lots of fruits and vegetables that are high in antioxidants to lower risk of cancer and heart disease. So with this in mind, a research team in Italy decided to see if it could create even more healthful berries that taste even better.


For their study, the researchers bred wild strawberries with a commercial variety. “We already released a new variety (Romina) with increased high nutritional quality of the fruit in comparison with other varieties on the market (e.g. Elsanta),” said Bruno Mezzetti, who headed the team of scientists. “But then by crossing wild strawberries with cultivated genotypes we were able to develop new genotypes with a further higher content of antioxidants that looked pleasing to the eye and tasted quite sweet.” The new plants also produced a good yield of berries, he added.


Overall, the researchers worked with 20 kinds of strawberries they created and their “parents,” checking them for weight, yield, sugar content, acidity and antioxidant content. Based on their analysis, they concluded that a full-scale breeding program can produce new strawberry varieties that are superior to current commercial crops.


Mezzetti says the group’s ultimate aim is to produce these “super-good” strawberries that will be sold commercially. First, they will test the berries further in the lab and then, possibly, with human volunteers to determine even more definitively if the fruit has added health benefits and is even tastier than current varieties.

 

 

Use of Wild Genotypes in Breeding Program Increases Strawberry Fruit Sensorial and

Nutritional Quality”

 

Click here for the abstract.

 

*Journalists can request a PDF of the journal article by emailing newsroom@acs.org.

 

strawberries blog.jpg

 

               Credit: iurii Konoval/ iStock/Thinkstock
                 
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Looking to nature for materials to use in everyday products has its appeal and has spurred earnest research efforts toward this end. The approach seems more healthful than turning to synthetic materials — but nature is not always benign. Luckily, there are scientists acting as watchdogs over this enterprise to make sure at least some of what’s natural in our products is actually a good thing. GreenLabelSmall.jpg

 

In a new study, one team led by Anna Shvedova, Ph.D., has looked at materials called cellulose nanocrystals (CNCs), which are the most abundant natural biopolymers on the planet. Her team’s report from the journal ACS Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering states that CNCs have a lot of traits that are useful.


CNCs can lend desirable strength, and electrical and magnetic properties to products. They’re also biodegradable and come from renewable sources such as wood, bacteria and algae. Because of their all-around appeal, CNCs have made it into an impressive array of products.

             

“The novel generations of cellulose products are already manufactured and used for a number of applications in spray paints, cosmetics, packaging, construction and building insulation,” says Shvedova, who’s with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and West Virginia University.

 

What could be safer or more sustainable?

 

As it turns out, perhaps a lot of things. Shvedova tested these CNCs for health effects in mice. Her team found that these otherwise promising materials caused pulmonary inflammation and lung damage that is more severe than that caused by crocidolite asbestos, one of six kinds of the mineral. This could pose a serious health risk to manufacturing employees who work with CNCs and might inhale them.

 

“The major point to emphasize is that this nanomaterial should be handled carefully,” Shvedova says.

 

There is a bit of good news in all this. Shvedova also found that the way the CNCs were produced made a big difference in how they affected the animals’ health.

 

“Taken together, our data suggests that particle morphology and nanosize dimensions of CNCs, regardless of the source and chemical composition, may be critical factors affecting the type of innate immune inflammatory response,” she says. “As the need for manufacturing novel frontier nanocellulose materials for various applications including consumer products rises over the years, a detailed assessment of specific health outcomes with respect to their physical, structural and chemical properties is highly warranted.”

 

Shvedova’s work raises the persistent, modern question: How do we balance consumption with safeguarding our health and environment?

 

Click here for the abstract.


Image credit: Aquir/iStock/Thinkstock

While climate change discussions focus largely on carbon dioxide, emissions of the third-most important greenhouse gas is rising dramatically in China. And not only does this gas, nitrous oxide (N2O), contribute to the greenhouse effect, but it also threatens to eat away at the ozone layer, which protects us by absorbing some of the ultraviolet light from the sun. Concerned about the double threat of N2O, researchers from Peking University took a closer look at its historical and future emissions. Here are the highlights of a Q&A with Jianhua Xu on what his team found and what it means for the planet.

n2oSmall.jpg

 

Q.     What’s the most important finding from your study?

 

A.     China has become the world’s largest industrial N2O emitter. From 1990 to 2010, industrial N2O emissions in China grew 34-fold to 160 Gg (176,000 tons), while global industrial N2O emissions decreased by 41 percent to 379 Gg (418,000 tons) and the total industrial N2O emissions from Annex I countries (a group of industrialized and developing nations that are party to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change) decreased by 71 percent to 171 Gg (188,000 tons). By 2009, the emissions from China surpassed those from the European Union and United States for the first time.

 

 

Q.     The Montreal Protocol phased out chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and led to the still-ongoing but largely successful recovery of the ozone layer. If N2O emissions continue to rise, how will it affect this recovery?

 

A.     N2O possesses a small ozone-depleting potential (ODP) of only 0.017, which is around one-sixtieth of CFC-11, a typical CFC regulated under the Montreal Protocol. However, its mild ODP could be quite insidious because the current anthropogenic N2O emissions are much larger than the past and future CFC emissions worldwide. This makes anthropogenic N2O emissions the single most important of the anthropogenic ozone-depleting emissions today and throughout the 21st century. If the atmospheric N2O level were to remain flat, a complete recovery of the ozone layer is projected to occur by around 2025-20281. But the increase in the atmospheric N2O level at the current pace could delay the complete recovery by a decade, although drawing down CFCs under the Montreal Protocol has provided all possible relief1.

 

 

Q.     There is a lot of focus on CO2 emissions’ effects on climate change. What would happen to our climate if we dramatically reduced CO2 emissions but allowed N2O to rise unchecked?

 

A.     Although CO2 is and will always be the largest contributor to global radiative forcing in climate change, global warming will not be alleviated if CO2 is reduced but N2O continues to rise. Currently, N2O is the third most important greenhouse gas, and its total anthropogenic emissions are projected to ascend by 58 percent and the global average N2O abundance by 13 percent by 20502.

 

     Over 60 percent of global anthropogenic N2O emissions reside in agricultural activities. Improving fertilizer-use efficiency, applying nitrification inhibitors and controlled-released fertilizers are regarded as the most cost-effective control options3, but these practices are not widespread in most agriculture-dominant developing countries. If it remains unchecked, the increased radiative forcing — a change in the Earth’s energy balance between incoming radiation from the sun and what gets bounced back into space — could make up the net climate benefit from CO2 abatement.

 

 

Q.     Are there technological solutions N2O-producing industries can implement now to reduce their emissions? How costly are they?

 

A.     Yes, there are a few feasible technologies to abate industrial N2O emissions. But in China, the lowest cost for one such project was $10 million, and the net present value was minus $30 million (meaning the project was not profitable) for the entire 21-year operation. In my understanding, the availability of abatement technology is not an issue in the current situation, but the design and implementation of effective policies and regulatory programs are.

 

To read the full Q&A, click here.

 

Click here for the abstract.

 

Image credit: telnyawka/iStock/Thinkstock


References

  1. Chipperfield, M., Atmospheric science: nitrous oxide delays ozone recovery. Nature Geoscience 2009, 2, (11), 742-743.
  2. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Contribution of working group I: the physical science basis. In Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Thomas, S.; Qin, D.; Gian-Kasper, P., Eds. Cambridge University Press: Cambridge, United Kingdom and New York, USA, 2013.
  3. Kanter, D.; Mauzerall, D. L.; Ravishankara, A.; Daniel, J. S.; Portmann, R. W.; Grabiel, P. M.; Moomaw, W. R.; Galloway, J. N., A post-Kyoto partner: Considering the stratospheric ozone regime as a tool to manage nitrous oxide. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 2013, 110, (12), 4451-4457.

Warmer temperatures are finally upon us here on the East Coast, prompting many of us to get outside into the sunlight and play. To Bruce Parkinson and colleagues at the University of Wyoming, the sun is more than just a welcome sight after a long winter. It could someday provide a real, sustainable alternative to fossil fuels.

 

The finite supplies of fossil fuels, such as coal and gas, are being depleted. And burning them produces the main greenhouse gas carbon dioxide. Alternative ways to generate energy haven’t really caught on yet, though. They can be costly, and in their current forms, they can’t make enough energy to replace even a fraction of the fossil fuels. Many researchers are working on improving solar panels, but even though their efficiencies have improved and their costs have decreased, they can’t produce power when the sun goes down.

 

Enter Parkinson’s team. They and others are placing their bets on a different way of harvesting and storing energy from the sun. They are working on devices that “split” water (H2O) to get hydrogen (H2) and oxygen (O2). The hydrogen would be used as fuel, which can be stored and used at night when it’s dark, as well as for powering cars and trucks. To make the dream a reality, the materials in the device must be efficient, inexpensive, earth-abundant and stable for years. But what materials would work?

 

Parkinson had a thought — a metal oxide semiconductor would fit the bill as a photocatalyst in such a device, especially if the semiconductor were made of a few different metals. But with about 60 metals in the periodic table, the number of combinations he’d have to test was mind-boggling.

 

After his grad student Mike Woodhouse put together an initial ink-jet printer-based protocol to produce and analyze various metal combinations, Parkinson realized that he had a lot of work ahead of him. He remembers thinking that he’d either have to start a company, hire a bunch of engineers to automate the process or outsource the problem. Because the idea seemed simple, outsourcing seemed like the best option.

 

And that’s how the SHArK (Solar Hydrogen Activity Research Kit) project started in 2006. The kits include materials, such as an apparatus based on a Lego Mindstorm® kit, an electrochemical cell, a green laser pointer, an electronics box and fluorine-doped tin oxide plates. The students use the kits to prepare metal oxide films and test them for water-splitting activity.

 

“We started with undergrads, but enthusiastic high school teachers have taken it to high schools for AP Chemistry classes and science projects,” says Parkinson. He and colleagues have now sent more than 70 kits to high school and undergraduate students around the world.

 

In a recent issue of ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces, Parkinson’s team reports that an undergrad named Thanh D. Do, then at Gonzaga University, happened upon a potential winning combination — a semiconducting p-type oxide containing iron, aluminum and chromium. Do is also a co-author on the paper. John Rowley, a postdoc in the Parkinson lab, using more sophisticated research tools, followed up on his discovery and found that it has many promising properties, such as a high photovoltage. Parkinson says his team and other researchers will continue to improve the material to enhance the photocurrent response.

 

The SHArK project was initially funded by the Dreyfus Foundation and is now funded by the National Science Foundation as part of the “Powering the Planet” Center for Chemical Innovation.


 

What do you think of the project? Would you have volunteered to help when you were a student? Are you interested in helping?


 

“Combinatorial Discovery though a Distributed Outreach Program: Investigation of the Photoelectrolysis Activity of p-Type Fe, Cr, Al Oxides” [Free Editors' Choice link]


Parkinson.jpg

Credit: Bruce Parkinson

 

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Avocados are great with a little salad dressing or as the yummiest ingredient in guacamole. But when you get to the half of the fruit with that big brown seed or pit in it, the fun stops abruptly. Using a knife doesn’t work well, and forget about a fork. Luckily the third key utensil is the magic charm: A nice large soup spoon is ideal for scooping out the seed and the fruit.

Unless you plan to grow your own avocado plant, however, you will throw that seed in the trash. But not so fast!

A recent review article in ACS’ Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry says that the seeds and other inedible parts of certain tropical fruits in particular may well contain ingredients for a new, natural weight-loss product. We’re talking about the flower, leaf and peel, as well as the seeds.

After reviewing more than 80 studies done over a decade, Dawei Zhang and colleagues have concluded that these apparently worthless waste products actually contain high amounts of phytochemicals that could help with losing weight.
Phytochemicals
are non-nutritive plant chemicals that can help protect people from diseases. Among these are polyphenols, which are healthful antioxidants.

As yet, there is no clear evidence on exactly how these phytochemicals work to reduce weight, Zhang says. Researchers haven’t isolated the bioactive compounds or discovered if there is a combination of compounds in the fruits that work to reduce weight. But the point is that the fruit waste does appear to be effective in keeping weight down in lab tests, thus helping prevent development of diabetes, for example.


Besides having great potential as an anti-obesity agent, the study team says the fruit waste has a major advantage over weight-loss drugs: It won’t produce side effects as some synthetic meds do. So what are some of these magical inedibles? They include seeds from nuts and corn in addition to avocados; tangerine, mango and prickly pear peels; pomegranate flowers, and mango, guava, papaya and olive leaves.


While studies document how effective these waste fat-fighters can be, no one has described how to extract and process these compounds from foods. “We need to find the right places and equipment to store these fruit wastes to prevent them from decaying,” said Zhang. “We also need to develop large-scale extraction techniques to take up only the parts that we need.” Also important, he said, is to grow large quantities of crops that contain high amounts of the valuable anti-obesity compounds.

 

“The Hidden Potential of Tropical Fruit Waste Components As Useful Source of Remedy for Obesity”

Click here for the abstract.

*Journalists can request a PDF of the journal article by emailing newsroom@acs.org.

 

 

avocado.jpg

 

Credit:iStock/Thinkstock

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Going under the knife for surgery is a scary enough prospect by itself. But throw in the risk of contracting a bacterial infection, and even a routine procedure can become a nightmare.

 

Now, keep in mind that surgical infections only affect fewer than 3 percent of surgery patients nationwide every year and can often be treated effectively. But when infections grow severe, some patients are left fighting for their lives over something that should not have happened in the first place.


surgery.jpg

To spur a faster recovery for patients in such cases and those with other severe bacterial infections, scientists are figuring out for the first time how to create a picture of where the harmful bugs are in the body.

 

Doctors can take pictures of broken bones, some tumors, even brain activity. But when it comes to an invasion of bacteria, Anton Bunschoten, Ph.D., says currently approved imaging options are limited to looking for inflammation. Though a body’s local flare-ups can be a result of a bacterial infection, it’s not the sole possible cause — and discerning the source quickly can save lives.

 

If a patient has a hip replacement, for example, and feels pain and other symptoms after surgery, a minor inflammatory response would require a small intervention, says Bunschoten who’s with the radiology department at Leiden University Medical Center in the Netherlands.

 

“On the other side, when it’s a bacterial infection, the whole prosthetic has to be removed and a serious antibiotic treatment has to follow,” he explains. “So it’s really important to know if the prosthetic is inflamed due to a bacterial infection or another kind of inflammatory response.”

 

To take stock of where bacterial imaging research is, Bunschoten’s team looked at the various parallel studies going on and assessed how far along each has come. He reported his findings in the ACS journal Bioconjugate Chemistry.

 

In his review paper, Bunschoten describes several agents researchers are pursuing for imaging infections: antibiotics, carbohydrates, viruses, enzyme-activated tracers and proteins. He says one set stands out above the rest: antimicrobial peptides, or AMPs. These amino acid chains form a part of the native immune system in all kinds of organisms. They work by sticking to bacteria and busting open their outer walls.

 

Some researchers are taking advantage of this bacteria-seeking behavior and attaching radioactive and fluorescent labels to AMPs to see if the peptides can be used for imaging. They’ve already had some success with one particular kind, called UBI for short. Researchers have even tested UBIs in patients in bone, soft tissue and for prosthetic and diabetic foot infections and in cases of fever of unknown origin.

 

Because some of the labels for imaging are radioactive, the risks of exposing patients have to be weighed against benefits. So this type of technique would not be used to confirm a run-of-the-mill ear infection, for example. But for serious infections that occur post-surgery or cause life-threatening diseases like tuberculosis, this kind of imaging could help transform global healthcare.

 

UBIs are not quite ready for prime time, but because they’ve already been tested in patients, they could be on track for practical use within five years, Bunschoten estimates.

 

He acknowledges funding from The Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research.

 

“Development and Prospects of Dedicated Tracers for the Molecular Imaging of Bacterial Infections”

 

Click here for the abstract.

 

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By any account, the Deepwater Horizon explosion and oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in April 2010 was a disastrous event. Cleaning up required an infusion of cash to the tune of billions of dollars within a few months.

 

Now consider the “dead zone” phenomenon in the same body of water. It’s a disaster in its own right, but a far more subtle one that doesn’t involve fire, smoke, oil slicked water – nor unfortunately, billions of dollars for remediation.

 

And that’s a problem that weaves together clashing interests across multiple states and the fisheries down south.

 

During fall and spring, farmers apply nitrogen-based fertilizers to their crops. The excess nitrates pour invisibly into the Mississippi River and spill into the gulf. It’s a feast for algae, which thrive on the nitrogen compounds. But the decomposition of the massive algal bloom depletes oxygen in the water.


deadzone.jpg

Animals that can’t escape the area die. Fish swim away, hurting the seafood industry. The annual event generates a few media stories and then fades away until the next year.

 

This is not a new phenomenon. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has been mapping the zone since 1985. State and federal agencies have implemented programs over the years to stem the flow of nutrients.

 

What is surprising is that years of such efforts have not paid off. In 2013, the dead zone was the size of Connecticut, which was smaller than experts had predicted but three times larger than the goal set by an Environmental Protection Agency task force in 2001.

                                                      

Mark David, who has been studying agriculture and water quality in Illinois for two decades, wanted to know why.

 

After evaluating the situation, he found that while small programs have some effect, larger forces overwhelm local benefits. His report appears in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology.

 

“In the big scale of things, we’ve done very little,” says David. “In some ways, we’re going in the opposite direction with more corn and more drainage.”

 

When farmers first settled in the Midwest, David explains, though the land was extremely fertile, it was also extremely wet. Plows would get stuck in soggy ground. To make the land more crop friendly, they buried one-foot long clay pipes, or tiles, to redirect the excess water from the fields. The effect was dramatic. The land yielded bountiful harvests on some of the best agricultural soil in the world.

 

But along with the excess water, the tile system flushes out nitrates from fertilizer. And the drain is the mighty Mississippi.

mississippi.jpg

With demand high for biofuel, corn pays very well these days, David says. Now, tens of millions of acres from southern Minnesota to Ohio are on tile drainage, contributing a constant flow of nitrates each spring into the river, he adds.

 

“We want clean water, but we’re doing everything possible to maximize corn and soybean production,” David says. “And corn and soybean production on tile-drained land is about as leaky a system as you can have.”

 

To compound the problem, David says, farmers have few incentives to mitigate run-off. Planting specific winter crops, called cover crops, that improve soil quality and retain nitrogen would cost farmers an additional $30 to $40 per acre. Woodchip bioreactors — enclosed beds of woodchips — placed at the end of field drainage pipes remove nitrates but cost around $8,000 each.

 

“I think we know how to reduce nitrates,” David says. “It involves working more closely with farmers. But many practices that reduce nutrients don’t increase profitability. Somewhere we need to figure out how we’re going to pay for the practices that improve water quality but don’t boost yields.”

 

Is it time to boost the level of federal involvement? If so, what role could government play? What non-government actions could be taken?


“Biophysical and Social Barriers Restrict Water Quality Improvements in the Mississippi River Basin”


Click here for the abstract.


*Journalists can request a PDF of the journal article by emailing newsroom@acs.org.


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Image credits: American Chemical Society (top), Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Thinkstock (bottom)

Here’s an item from this week’s PressPac that we thought you’d enjoy. The PressPac features summaries of articles appearing in our peer-reviewed journals and Chemical & Engineering News. To get the entire PressPac in your inbox, email us at newsroom@acs.org.


New evidence shores up findings that whey protein, which is found in milk and cheese, could have health benefits for people who are obese and do not yet have diabetes. The study, which appears in ACS’ Journal of Proteome Research, examined how different protein sources affect metabolism.


Lars O. Dragsted, Kjeld Hermansen and colleagues point out that obesity continues to be a major public health problem worldwide. In the U.S. alone, about 35 percent of adults and about 17 percent of children are obese, a condition that can lead to a number of health issues, including cardiovascular disease and type-2 diabetes. One risk factor for cardiovascular disease in people who are obese is high levels of fat in their blood after meals. But recent research has found that these levels partly depend on the kind of protein included in the meal. Studies have suggested that whey protein can lower the amount of fat and increase insulin, which clears glucose in the blood, keeping sugar levels where they’re supposed to be. But the details on whey’s effects were still vague, so the team took a closer look.


They gave volunteers who were obese and non-diabetic the same meal of soup and bread plus one kind of protein, either from whey, gluten, casein (another milk protein) or cod. The scientists found that the meal supplemented with whey caused the subjects’ stomachs to empty slower than the others’. These subjects also had lower levels of fatty acids in their blood after meals but higher amounts of the specific types of amino acids that boost insulin levels.


The authors acknowledge project funding from the Nordic Centre of Excellence to SYSDIET and the Danish Council for Strategic Research to DanORC.


"Whey Protein Delays Gastric Emptying and Suppresses Plasma Fatty Acids and Their Metabolites Compared to Casein, Gluten, and Fish Protein”


Click here for the abstract.


*Journalists can request a PDF of the journal article by emailing newsroom@acs.org.



https://images.magnetmail.net/images/clients/ACS/wheyThumb.jpg

 

Credit: marekuliasz/iStock/Thinkstock


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Here’s an item from this week’s PressPac that we thought you’d enjoy. The PressPac features summaries of articles appearing in our peer-reviewed journals and Chemical & Engineering News. To get the entire PressPac in your inbox, email us at newsroom@acs.org.


The shale gas boom has transformed the energy landscape in the U.S., but in some drier locations, it could cause conflict among the energy industry, residents and agricultural interests over already-scarce water resources, say researchers. They add that degraded water quality is a potential risk unless there are adequate safeguards. The feature article appears in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology.

 

Meagan S. Mauter and colleagues point out that a major criticism of extracting shale gas through hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” is that it requires tremendous amounts of water — 2.5 to 5 million gallons — to develop a single well. Water, along with chemicals and sand, is injected under high pressure into wells to create cracks, or fractures, in shale and release stored gas. In some water-rich places, such as Pennsylvania, this is not a significant problem. But in other locations, including some rural counties in arid south Texas, this level of water use competes with residential and agricultural needs and depletes groundwater resources. These and other types of region-specific scenarios are similar to what other states and countries could encounter when or if they also develop shale gas reserves. Mauter’s team looked at what practices could help maintain a balance between fracking and environmental and residential needs.

 

The researchers say that there are ways to minimize the industry’s water footprint. One method is to use brackish water that is not fit for drinking or agricultural use but can be suitable for fracking. The other method is to recycle the waste water. “Leadership from both industry and the U.S. government may be needed to assure that economic benefits of shale gas development are realized without significant regional impairment of water resource quantity and quality,” the authors conclude.


“Regional Variation in Water-Related Impacts of Shale Gas Development and Implications for Emerging International Plays”


Click here for the abstract.


*Journalists can request a PDF of the journal article by emailing newsroom@acs.org.


shaleHR.jpg

Credit: LonnyG/iStock/Thinkstock


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Here’s an item from this week’s PressPac that we thought you’d enjoy. The PressPac features summaries of articles appearing in our peer-reviewed journals and Chemical & Engineering News. To get the entire PressPac in your inbox, email us at newsroom@acs.org.


When someone suffers from a stroke, a silent countdown begins. A fast diagnosis and treatment can mean the difference between life and death. So scientists are working on a new blood test that one day could rapidly confirm whether someone is having a stroke and what kind. Their report appears in the ACS journal Analytical Chemistry.

 

Steven A. Soper and colleagues note that strokes, which are the third leading cause of death and disability in the United States, have two possible causes. In ischemic strokes, a clot stops blood flow in a part of the brain. In hemorrhagic stroke, a blood vessel in the brain ruptures. Both can lead to similar symptoms, such as numbness on one side of the body, sudden weakness and headache. Current diagnostic tests can’t tell between these two types. But treatment, ideally within three hours of onset, depends on the kind of stroke a person is having. Soper’s collaborator, Alison Baird, who is at SUNY Downstate Stroke Center, found clues — or biomarkers — in the blood that can suggest the stroke type and assist in determining the course of proper treatment. Soper’s team sought a way to detect those clues quickly.

 

They built a device that can process whole blood and isolate genetic material for two potential stroke biomarkers within minutes. Keeping in mind that identifying more biomarkers could aid in diagnosis, they designed their device so it can analyze a total of four biomarkers at the same time.

 

The authors acknowledge funding from the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering.


“Parallel Affinity-Based Isolation of Leukocyte Subsets Using Microfluidics: Application for Stroke Diagnosis”


Click here for the abstract.


*Journalists can request a PDF of the journal article by emailing newsroom@acs.org.


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Here’s an item from this week’s PressPac that we thought you’d enjoy. The PressPac features summaries of articles appearing in our peer-reviewed journals and Chemical & Engineering News. To get the entire PressPac in your inbox, email us at newsroom@acs.org.


Improved thinking. Decreased appetite. Lowered blood pressure. The potential health benefits of dark chocolate keep piling up, and scientists are now homing in on what ingredients in chocolate might help prevent obesity, as well as type-2 diabetes. They found that one particular type of antioxidant in cocoa prevented laboratory mice from gaining excess weight and lowered their blood sugar levels. The report appears in ACS’ Journal of Agricultural & Food Chemistry.

 

Andrew P. Neilson and colleagues explain that cocoa, the basic ingredient of chocolate, is one of the most flavanol-rich foods around. That’s good for chocolate lovers because previous research has shown that flavanols in other foods such as grapes and tea can help fight weight gain and type-2 diabetes. But not all flavanols, which are a type of antioxidant, are created equal. Cocoa has several different kinds of these compounds, so Neilson’s team decided to tease them apart and test each individually for health benefits.

 

The scientists fed groups of mice different diets, including high-fat and low-fat diets, and high-fat diets supplemented with different kinds of flavanols. They found that adding one particular set of these compounds, known as oligomeric procyanidins (PCs), to the food made the biggest difference in keeping the mice’s weight down if they were on high-fat diets. They also improved glucose tolerance, which could potentially help prevent type-2 diabetes. “Oligomeric PCs appear to possess the greatest antiobesity and antidiabetic bioactivities of the flavanols in cocoa, particularly at the low doses employed for the present study,” the researchers state.


“Oligomeric Cocoa Procyanidins Possess Enhanced Bioactivity Compared to Monomeric and Polymeric Cocoa Procyanidins for Preventing the Development of Obesity, Insulin Resistance, and Impaired Glucose Tolerance during High-Fat Feeding”


Click here for the abstract.


*Journalists can request a PDF of the journal article by emailing newsroom@acs.org.


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Here’s an item from this week’s PressPac that we thought you’d enjoy. The PressPac features summaries of articles appearing in our peer-reviewed journals and Chemical & Engineering News. To get the entire PressPac in your inbox, email us at newsroom@acs.org.


The smells of summer — the sweet fragrance of newly opened flowers, the scent of freshly cut grass and the aroma of meats cooking on the backyard grill — will soon be upon us. Now, researchers are reporting that the very same beer that many people enjoy at backyard barbeques could, when used as a marinade, help reduce the formation of potentially harmful substances in grilled meats. The study appears in ACS’ Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.


I.M.P.L.V.O. Ferreira and colleagues explain that past studies have shown an association between consumption of grilled meats and a high incidence of colorectal cancer. Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) are substances that can form when meats are cooked at very high temperatures, like on a backyard grill. And high levels of PAHs, which are also in cigarette smoke and car exhaust, are associated with cancers in laboratory animals, although it’s uncertain if that’s true for people. Nevertheless, the European Union Commission Regulation has established the most suitable indicators for the occurrence and carcinogenic potency of PAHs in food and attributed maximum levels for these compounds in foods. Beer, wine or tea marinades can reduce the levels of some potential carcinogens in cooked meat, but little was known about how different beer marinades affect PAH levels, until now.


The researchers grilled samples of pork marinated for four hours in Pilsner beer, non-alcoholic Pilsner beer or a black beer ale, to well-done on a charcoal grill. Black beer had the strongest effect, reducing the levels of eight major PAHs by more than half compared with unmarinated pork. “Thus, the intake of beer marinated meat can be a suitable mitigation strategy,” say the researchers.


The authors acknowledge funding from Universidade do Porto.


"Effect of Beer Marinades on Formation of Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons in Charcoal-Grilled Pork"


Click here for the abstract.


*Journalists can request a PDF of the journal article by emailing newsroom@acs.org.

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Here’s an item from this week’s PressPac that we thought you’d enjoy. The PressPac features summaries of articles appearing in our peer-reviewed journals and Chemical & Engineering News. To get the entire PressPac in your inbox, email us at newsroom@acs.org.


Beer drinkers know that hops are what gives the drink its bitterness and aroma. Recently, scientists reported that the part of hops that isn’t used for making beer contains healthful antioxidants and could be used to battle cavities and gum disease. In a new study in ACS’ Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, they say that they’ve identified some of the substances that could be responsible for these healthful effects.

 

Yoshihisa Tanaka and colleagues note that their earlier research found that antioxidant polyphenols, contained in the hop leaves (called bracts) could help fight cavities and gum disease. Extracts from bracts stopped the bacteria responsible for these dental conditions from being able to stick to surfaces and prevented the release of some bacterial toxins. Every year, farmers harvest about 2,300 tons of hops in the United States, but the bracts are not used for making beer and are discarded. Thus, there is potentially a large amount of bracts that could be repurposed for dental applications. But very few of the potentially hundreds of compounds in the bracts have been reported. Tanaka’s group decided to investigate what substances in these leaves might cause those healthful effects.


Using a laboratory technique called chromatography, they found three new compounds, one already-known compound that was identified for the first time in plants and 20 already-known compounds that were found for the first time in hops. The bracts also contained substantial amounts of proanthocyanidins, which are healthful antioxidants.


“Comprehensive Separation and Structural Analyses of Polyphenols and Related Compounds from Bracts of Hops (Humulus lupulus L.)”


Click here for the abstract.


*Journalists can request a PDF of the journal article by emailing newsroom@acs.org.


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