Six Slinn Picks – chemical news

  • Hydrocarbons in the deep Earth – A computer modeling study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences shows that at deep Earth pressures and temperatures, longer hydrocarbons may be formed from the simplest one, the methane molecule.
  • Sugar helping map new ground against deadly bug – A potential vaccine against bacteria that cause serious gastric disorders including stomach cancer may be a step closer following a pioneering study by a University of Guelph chemist.
  • Researchers discover precisely how thalidomide causes birth defects – Thalidomide may have been withdrawn in the early 1960s for use by pregnant women, but its dramatic effects remain memorable half a century later. Now, researchers have taken a major step toward understanding exactly how thalidomide causes the birth defects. This is important as thalidomide is still used to treat diseases like multiple myeloma and leprosy, and is being tested for cancers and autoimmune disorders.
  • New biosensor microchip could speed up drug development, Stanford researchers say – A new biosensor microchip that could hold more than 100,000 magnetically sensitive nanosensors could speed up drug development markedly, Stanford researchers say. The nanosensors analyze how proteins bond – a critical step in drug development. The ultrasensitive sensors can simultaneously monitor thousands of times more proteins than existing technology, deliver results faster and assess the strength of the bonds.
  • Shaping crystals with bio-tools – Researchers in the US have developed a new approach for controlling crystal growth, borrowing tools from biology. Some crystalline materials can behave very differently as catalysts depending on the crystal surface used, says Yu Huang of the University of California Los Angeles. 'If we were able to use biomolecules to produce just one particular shape, it would increase the efficiency of these catalysts.'
  • Move over Prozac: New drug offers hope for depression – Researchers have described a screen for stable small molecules that could specifically inhibit TrkB action. They identified one they dubbed ANA-12, which had potent behavioral effects when administered to mice that suggest it will have antidepressant and anti-anxiety activity in humans. The researchers are hopeful that this new compound could be used to develop a new class of psychiatric drugs.

Chemist and writer Robert Slinn picks six of the best for his regular web column on Reactive Reports – Slinn Pickings.