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ACS in the News - January 13, 2010

ACS in the News - January 13, 2010

'ACS in the News' publishes daily articles from newspapers, blogs and magazines about the American Chemical Society and its 38 peer-reviewed journals. Full-text links to the articles below can also be found in the attached document.

Discover Magazine (New York, N.Y.: monthly circulation 846,712)

“Nano-Nascar? Tiny Dragster Has Chassis, Axles, & Buckyball Wheels”

January 12, 2010

Because there’s no point in building a nanoscopic car that couldn’t crush other nanoscopic cars in a race, Rice University scientists have rolled out their best and baddest “nanodragster” ever. The car, 1/25,000th the size of a human hair, not only has a freely moving chassis but also can turn when one of its wheels is up in the air. James Tour and his team previously made tiny cars that used carbon-60 molecules called “buckyballs” as wheels, but those wheels could turn on only hot surfaces, about 200 degrees Celsius. (Organic Letters) (San Clemente, Calif.: 6.3 million monthly unique users)

“Blood Pressure Drugs Might Fight Diabetic Retinopathy”

January 12, 2010

New research in mice suggests that some drugs used to treat high blood pressure might help prevent and treat a disorder that causes people with diabetes to lose their vision. The researchers tested candesartan (Atacand), a drug known as an angiotensin receptor blocker, on mice to see what would happen to 65 proteins in the retina that appear to be linked to diabetes. They found that the drug prevented more than 70% of the proteins from having abnormal changes. The findings, which come in the largest study of its kind, could spell hope for people who suffer from diabetic retinopathy or are at risk for it. The disorder damages blood vessels in the retina. Previous research had suggested that high-blood pressure drugs -- also including ACE inhibitors -- might help. The study findings were published in the Journal of Proteome Research.

Times of India (New Delhi, India: daily circulation 3.15 million)

“Coal linked to cancer in south China”

January 13, 2010

Nonsmoking women in an area of China’s Yunnan province die of lung cancer at a rate 20 times that of their counterparts in other regions of the country — and higher than anywhere else in the world. A group of scientists now say they have a possible explanation: the burning of coal formed during volcanic eruptions hundreds of millions of years ago. Coal in that part of China contains high concentrations of silica, a suspected carcinogen, the scientists reported in a recent edition of the journal Environmental Science & Technology. Like others in rural China, the families of Xuanwei county use coal for heat and for cooking. As the coal burns, particles of silica are released with the vapor and inhaled. Women, who do the cooking, face greatest exposure. “There is more silica in this coal than in 99.9% of all the samples we analyzed,” said an author of the study, Robert Finkelman, a professor of geology at the University of Texas at Dallas.

Thaindian News (Bangkok, Thailand: 2.5 million monthly unique users)

“Ancient Egyptian women’s ‘magical’ make-up cured eye disease as well”

January 12, 2010

The heavy make-up worn by ancient Egyptian women protected them against eye disease, say scientists. Scientists in France believe that the alluring eye makeup may have been used to help prevent or treat eye disease by doubling as an infection-fighter. In the next issue of the American Chemical Society (ACS) semi-monthly journal, Analytical Chemistry, Christian Amatore, Philippe Walter, and colleagues reported that thousands of years ago the ancient Egyptians used lead-based substances as cosmetics, including an ingredient in black eye makeup. Some Egyptians believed that this makeup also had a “magical” role in which the ancient gods Horus and Ra would protect wearers against several illnesses.

RedOrbit (Dallas, Tex.: 5 million monthly unique users)

“Scripps Research Team Wins Global Race To Achieve Landmark Synthesis Of Perplexing Natural Product”

January 12, 2010

In 1993 researchers discovered a chemical compound in a sponge off Palau, an island nation in the Pacific Ocean, that has shown anticancer, antibacterial, and antifungal pharmaceutical promise. But that wasn't its greatest allure, at least not for chemists. This compound, called Palau'amine, is so chemically complex that finding a way to produce it in the laboratory became the most hotly pursued synthetic chemistry goal in modern history. Synthesizing Palau'amine is a daunting task because of two main features. First, it has a molecular framework with inner connections so bizarre that chemists have been taught in graduate school that they can't exist in nature. The most striking feature is a combination of two carbon rings sprinkled with nitrogen atoms that bond in a way that puts phenomenal strain on the molecule. "It's so contorted that you wouldn't expect it to be possible," says Scripps Research chemist Phil Baran, Ph.D., who led the team that made the breakthrough. Palau'amine tops a string of achievements for the Baran lab, most recently solving the two-decade old riddle of how to synthesize a compound called vinigrol that lowers blood pressure in rats. Results of this work were published in October 2009 in the Journal of the American Chemical Society, and are currently the journal's most downloaded paper.

Consumer Reports (Yonkers, N.Y.: 2.9 million monthly unique users)

“Study looks at possible link between chemicals in driveway sealant and cancer”

January 12, 2010

"Study Sees Parking Lot Dust As a Cancer Risk," on, focuses on how chemicals in a common coal-tar sealants used on driveways and parking lots can be tracked into homes, where they might pose a health risk. Read the full report on which the MSNBC story is based on the Web site of the Environmental Science & Technology journal. Essential information: If you're planning to resurface your driveway, read "Sealcoating: Don't Be Scammed By a Drive-by Driveway Sealcoating Job" to make sure you hire a qualified, legitimate contractor. You'll find licensed repaving contractors on the sites of the National Pavement Contractors Association and the Asphalt Sealcoat Manufacturers Association.

Bangor Daily News (Bangor, Maine: daily circulation 57,899)

“Wine tasting, pies and blueberries”

January 13, 2010

As if their being delicious wasn’t enough, new studies just released have shown that besides their powerful antioxidant properties, blueberries also are helpful in boosting memory in older people with early memory problems. A daily drink of about 500 milliliters of blueberry juice was associated with improved learning and word list recall, as well as a suggestion of reduced depressive symptoms, according to findings published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

Nanowerk (Honolulu, Hawaii: 70,700 monthly unique users)

“Trying to understand the interaction of nanoparticles with blood”

January 13, 2010

Emerging nanotechnology applications in the fields of medicine and biology often involve the use of nanoparticles for probing biological processes and structures or for constructing sophisticated nanoscale drug delivery mechanisms. Nanoparticles are already being used with dramatic success in biomedical applications. However, relatively little is known about the potential biological risks from these nanoparticle applications inside the body… New research performed in the Polymers Division at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) directly addresses this issue and explores the effects of nanoparticle size (5nm to 100nm) and a whole range of important blood proteins. The main findings are that the thickness of the protein layer, the binding constant for the protein-nanoparticle interaction and degree of cooperatively in the protein-nanoparticle binding process all tend to increase with nanoparticle size, the effect saturating when the nanoparticles reach a size on the order of 60-80 nm. The researchers reported their findings in the December 18, 2009 online issue of ACS Nano.

Green Car Congress (26,200 monthly unique users)

“Researchers Discover Method to Transform Structure of MOFs; Potential In Applications Such as Hydrogen Storage”

January 13, 2010

Scientists at the US Department of Energy’s (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory have discovered a new route to transform the structure of metal-organic framework (MOF) materials—an emerging class of porous crystalline solid—at industrially-accessible high pressures. Karena Chapman, Gregory Halder and Peter Chupas used the Advanced Photon Source’s high-focused X-ray beams to observe the structure of ZIF-8—a commercially available metal-organic framework (MOF) with molecular-scale pores that can have valuable catalytic applications—after it withstood varying degrees of pressure… The next step is for the scientists to examine the mechanism of the structural change and how this modification process can be most effectively exploited for molecular storage and separation applications. A paper about this discovery was recently published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society.

… From the Blogs

Fresh Articles

“The 10 Most Polluted Cities in America!”

January 13, 2010

Air pollution is the process by which unhealthy chemicals or biological materials are introduced into the atmosphere… Air pollution can have a detrimental effect on health. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 2.4 million people die each year from causes directly associated with air pollution. One point five million of these deaths are caused by indoor air pollution. Epidemiological studies revealed that well over 500,000 Americans die each year from cardiopulmonary disease linked to breathing fine particles found in air pollution, (American Chemical Society).

English Tea Blog

“Tea & Diabetes”

January 11, 2010

According to the American Diabetes Association, an estimated 20.8 million people in the United States alone suffer from diabetes. It’s a number that represents about seven percent of the nation’s overall population. With these figures in mind, the results of a study showing that a component in tea might counterbalance cell-damaging effects of high fructose corn syrup come as welcome news. Another study found that black and green tea both showed results when it came to lowering blood sugar in rats. The results appeared in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. In the study, diabetic rats were given black and green tea for three months in amounts that would be equivalent to 36 ounces a day for a 143-pound person.