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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.

 

A novel method for extracting titanium, a metal highly valued for its light weight, high strength, corrosion resistance and biocompatibility, could lower its cost and make it more widely accessible, for example, for producing lighter car parts to improve fuel efficiency. The method, which significantly reduces the energy required to separate it from its tightly bound companion, oxygen, appears in the Journal of the American Chemical Society.


Zhigang Zak Fang and colleagues note that while titanium is the fourth most common metal in the Earth’s crust, the high-energy, high-cost method used to extract it prevents its use in broader applications. The metal’s light weight, strength, stability and corrosion resistance earned it valued roles on the Mars Odyssey mission, in wedding rings and in deep-sea submersibles. Titanium also could be used to significantly lighten and strengthen commercial products and materials. But currently, titanium is too expensive for widespread use. The most common technique, called the Kroll process, used to extract the metal from titanium oxide was invented in the 1930s and has undergone slight improvements. But by and large, the method, which requires temperatures over 1,800 degrees Fahrenheit, keeps prices for the metal high. Fang’s team decided to try out a new approach to make titanium more accessible.


The scientists discovered that they could eliminate the energy-intensive steps of the Kroll process. In the lab, they successfully tested a new series of reactions for isolating titanium that halves the temperature requirements of the conventional method and consumes 60 percent less energy.


The authors acknowledge funding from the U.S. Department of Energy.


“A New, Energy-Efficient Chemical Pathway for Extracting Ti Metal From Ti Minerals”


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.


Since insulin’s crucial discovery nearly a century ago, countless diabetes patients have had to inject themselves with the life-saving medicine. Now scientists are reporting a new development toward a long-sought insulin pill that could save millions the pain of daily shots. Published in the ACS journal Biomacromolecules, the advance could someday not only eliminate the “ouch” factor, but also get needle-wary — and weary — patients to take their medicine when they should.


Sanyog Jain and colleagues explain that patients with diabetes sometimes skip doses or stop taking their insulin because the injections can be painful. But doing so puts their health in danger. An estimated 347 million people globally (about 26 million in the U.S.) are living with diabetes. In the U.S., more than a quarter of these patients are taking some kind of insulin therapy. For years, researchers have sought a way to transform delivery of this therapy from a shot to a pill, but it has been a challenge. The body’s digestive enzymes that are so good at breaking down food also break down insulin before it can get to work. In addition, insulin doesn’t get easily absorbed through the gut into the bloodstream. To overcome these hurdles, Jain’s team combined two approaches to shield insulin from the digestive enzymes and then get it into the blood.


They packaged insulin in tiny sacs made of lipids, or fats, called liposomes, which are already used in some treatments. Then, they wrapped the liposomes in layers of protective molecules called polyelectrolytes. To help these “layersomes” get absorbed into the bloodstream, they attached folic acid, a kind of vitamin B that has been shown to help transport liposomes across the intestinal wall into the blood. In rats, the delivery system lowered blood glucose levels almost as much as injected insulin, though the effects of the layersomes lasted longer than that of injected insulin. 


The authors acknowledge funding from the Department of Science & Technology (India) and the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, New Delhi.


"Improved Stability and Antidiabetic Potential of Insulin Containing Folic Acid Functionalized Polymer Stabilized Multilayered Liposomes Following Oral Administration”


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.


Through lotions, shampoos and other personal care products (PCPs), infants and toddlers are likely becoming exposed to potentially harmful substances, called parabens, at an even higher level than adult women in the U.S., researchers have reported. They published their findings on parabens, which have been linked to reproductive and other health issues, in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology.

 

Kurunthachalam Kannan and Ying Guo point out that the substances called phthalates and parabens are used in a wide range of products, from medical devices to children’s toys, as well as PCPs. Phthalates hold in moisture; parabens are used as preservatives. Most people are exposed to them every day — for example, data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests that more than 90 percent of the population is exposed to these substances. The body breaks them down quickly, but both have been detected in urine, breast milk and blood. Research suggests a link between these substances and health issues in animals and people, such as sperm damage, breast cancer and an increased risk for asthma. In previous studies, Kannan’s team found that food and indoor dust contributed to phthalate exposure to varying degrees, but paraben exposure was low. Now it was time for them to look at a third route of possible exposure — the use of PCPs.

 

They collected 170 samples of makeup, lotions, shampoos and other products, including 20 items for babies, and tested them for nine phthalates and six parabens. Both substances were found in PCPs. In baby products, phthalate concentrations were low, but parabens were common. When the researchers calculated possible exposure levels, they estimated that the potential daily skin exposure to parabens by infants and toddlers could be as much as two to three times higher than that for adult women.

 

The authors acknowledge funding from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

 

“A Survey of Phthalates and Parabens in Personal Care Products from the United States and Its Implications for Human Exposure”


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.


For some 5,000 years, cultivated silkworms have been spinning luxurious white silk fibers destined for use in the finest clothing. But current dyeing practices produce wastewater that contains potentially harmful toxins, so scientists are turning to a new, “greener” dyeing method in which they coax already-colored fibers from the caterpillars by feeding them dyed leaves. Their findings are published in the journal ACS Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering.


Anuya Nisal, Kanika Trivedy and colleagues point out that dyeing textile fabrics is one of today’s most polluting industries. The process requires huge quantities of water for bleaching, washing and rinsing, and it results in a stream of harmful wastewater that needs to be treated effectively before release into the environment. To make the industry greener and more environmentally friendly, researchers have been developing less toxic methods, including feeding dyed leaves to silkworms so they spin colored — rather than white — cocoons. But so far, this technique has only been tested with one type of dye, which is too pricey for large-scale production. Thus, the team turned to azo dyes, which are inexpensive and account for more than half of the textile dyes used today.


They dipped or sprayed mulberry leaves, the silkworm’s food of choice, with azo dyes to see which ones, when consumed, would transfer to the silk. Of the seven dyes they tested, three were incorporated into the caterpillars’ silk, and none seemed to affect the worms’ growth. The scientists noticed that certain dye traits, such as the ability to dissolve in water, affected how well the dye worked. “These insights are extremely important in development of novel dye molecules that can be successfully used in this green method of producing colored silk fabrics,” they conclude.


The authors cite funding from the CSIR-National Chemical Laboratory, Pune, and the Central Sericultural Research and Training Institute, Mysore.


"Uptake of Azo Dyes into Silk Glands for Production of Colored Silk Cocoons Using a Green Feeding Approach"


Click here for the abstract.


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


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Credit: American Chemical Society


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