More chemical news

  • Opalinus Clay as a potential host rock for nuclear waste repositories – Scientists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU, Germany) have studied natural claystone in the laboratory for more than four years in order to determine how the radioactive elements plutonium and neptunium react with this rock.
  • Chemist discovers shortcut for processing drugs – A prolific University of Missouri chemist has discovered a quicker and easier method for pharmaceutical companies to make certain drugs.
  • Sunlight can influence the breakdown of medicines in the body – A study from the Swedish medical university Karolinska Institutet has shown that the body's ability to break down medicines may be closely related to exposure to sunlight, and thus may vary with the seasons. The findings offer a completely new model to explain individual differences in the effects of drugs, and how the surroundings can influence the body's ability to deal with toxins.
  • Synthetic biology: TUM researchers develop novel kind of fluorescent protein – Since the 1990s a green fluorescent protein known as GFP has been used in research labs worldwide. Protein designers at Technische Universitaet Muenchen have now taken it a step further: They have managed to incorporate a synthetic amino acid into the natural GFP and thus to create a new kind of chimeric fluorescent bio-molecule by means of synthetic biology. By exploiting a special physical effect, the fluorescent protein glows in turquoise and displays unmatched properties.
  • New molecular robot can be programmed to follow instructions – Scientists have developed a programmable "molecular robot" — a sub-microscopic molecular machine made of synthetic DNA that moves between track locations separated by 6nm. The robot, a short strand of DNA, follows instructions programmed into a set of fuel molecules determining its destination, for example, to turn left or right at a junction in the track. The report, which represents a step toward futuristic nanomachines and nanofactories, appears in ACS's Nano Letters.
  • Discovery of a biochemical basis for broccoli’s cancer-fighting ability – Scientists are reporting discovery of a potential biochemical basis for the apparent cancer-fighting ability of broccoli and its veggie cousins. They found for the first time that certain substances in the vegetables appear to target and block a defective gene associated with cancer. Their report, which could lead to new strategies for preventing and treating cancer, appears in ACS' Journal of Medicinal Chemistry.
  • Dark-Colored Sodas May Have Toxic Backwash, Or Not – The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) has made a claim that “caramel coloring” used to improve the eye appeal of colas and other dark-colored soft drinks contains the carcinogenic by-products 2-methylimidazole and 4-methylimidazole (shown) and thus might be a cause of thousands of cancers in the U.S. The nonprofit consumer advocacy organization made its announcement via a regulatory petition filed with the Food & Drug Administration on Feb. 16.
  • Measuring cells’ oxygen levels with PEBBLEs – Scientists in Germany have developed a strategy to visualise oxygen concentrations in cells to better understand its role in biological reactions such as metabolism.
  • Chemical mystery of antifungal compound solved – US researchers have applied synthetic organic chemistry to crack a mystery that has baffled scientists for more than 50 years: how the powerful, naturally occurring antifungal compound amphotericin B interacts with sterols in cell membranes.<br />
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    The work, carried out by Martin Burke's group at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, could open the way to reducing amphotericin's toxic side effects, and to developing new drugs to replace faulty proteins in human cells – as a kind of molecular prosthesis.
  • World’s ‘coolest’ physics study – The interior of a powerful machine newly installed at The University of Western Australia is not only the coldest place in the State, it is colder by far than anywhere in Antarctica or even in outer space.

The latest issue of “Slinn Pickings”. Chemistry news handpicked by chemist and writer Robert Slinn, who distils the chemical web in his regular guest blog posts for Reactive Reports.