10 chemical hits: Slinn Pickings

  • Venom of marine snails provide new drugs – Baldomero Olivera studies chemical compounds found in the venoms of marine cone snails, a potential source of powerful, yet safe and effective drugs. He will discuss the development of Prialt – an FDA-approved drug for intractable, chronic pain – and the potential for new drugs.
  • Oxygen levels in the air do not limit plant productivity – There have been concerns that present oxygen levels may limit plant productivity. Swedish researchers at Umea University show that this is not the case in a new study published in the journal The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). The results are encouraging since they demonstrate that plans for future biomass and solar fuels production are not limited by this effect.
  • Engineering atomic interfaces for new electronics – A multi-institutional team has made fundamental discoveries at the border regions, called interfaces, between oxide materials. Led by University of Wisconsin-Madison materials science and engineering professor Chang-Beom Eom, the team has discovered how to manipulate electrons oxide interfaces by inserting a single layer of atoms.
  • Scientists discover agave’s tremendous potential as new bioenergy feedstock – An article in the current issue of Global Change Biology Bioenergy reviews the suitability of Agave as a bioenergy feedstock that can sustain high productivity in spite of poor soil and stressful climatic conditions accompanying climate change.
  • The Green Machine: Algae Clean Wastewater, Convert to Biodiesel – Researchers at RIT are developing biodiesel from microalgae grown in wastewater. The project is doubly "green" because algae consume nitrates and phosphates and reduce bacteria and toxins in the water. The end result: clean wastewater and stock for a promising biofuel.
  • Antibody seeks cancer source – Deakin University medical scientists have created the world’s first cancer stem cell-targeting chemical missile, placing them a step closer to creating a medical ‘smart bomb’ that would seek out and eradicate the root of cancer cells.
  • Photoinduced hydrogen nanogenerators made of nanogels – Researchers in Japan have proposed a novel photochemical application toward artificial photosynthesis using nanogels as nanogenerators, which evolve hydrogen gas from the internal water induced by irradiation with visible light. Actually, these nanogel systems generate hydrogen gas more efficiently than conventional solution systems.
  • Residual dipolar couplings unveil structure of small molecules – Chemists at the Technische Universitaet Muenchen and the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology introduced a new method for identifying chemical compounds.
  • To thicken up runny liquids, add fluid – Adding a small amount of an immiscible fluid to a suspension – solid particles dispersed in a fluid – tunes the consistency of the suspension. The method could be used to create low-calorie foods, say the researchers in Germany.
  • Standardising nanomaterials – The European Commission's Joint Research Centre (JRC) has launched the world's first reference repository for nanomaterials, which will be used for safety assessment testing by national and international standardisation bodies.

Another high yielding news day from Robert Slinn for Reactive Reports in his regular column: Slinn Pickings.