Six Slinn Picks – chemical news

  • Starting a new metabolic path: Researchers develop technique to help metabolic engineering – Efforts to engineer new metabolic pathways into microbes for the inexpensive production of valuable chemical products, such as biofuels or therapeutic drugs, should get a significant boost in a new development from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)’s Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI). Researchers there have successfully demonstrated a technique they call "targeted proteomics" that speeds up and improves the ability to identify and quantify specific proteins within a cell or microorganism.
  • Cell factories package drugs for delivery – Scientists in Australia and Germany have used living cells as 'factories' to encapsulate particles such as drugs in biological membranes. The system could be used in the future as a biocompatible drug-delivery vehicle that could evade the body's immune and excretory systems, the scientists suggest..
  • 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  • Researchers discover precisely how thalidomide causes birth defects – Thalidomide may have been withdrawn in the early 1960s for use by pregnant women, but its dramatic effects remain memorable half a century later.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.

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