Slinn Pickings: forensics and DNA

  • Crime scene DNA testing on the move – A microfluidic chip that can come up with a DNA profile in less than three hours has been designed by US scientists for use at crime scenes.
  • The mystery of the disappearing crystals – A particular crystal form of the female steroid hormone progesterone can no longer be made. UK chemists have analysed a fifty year old sample to find out why and say that it's down to impurities. This takes researchers a step closer to understanding why certain pharmaceutical drugs lose their therapeutic effect.
  • Just in time for Valentine’s Day: UNC researchers identify a gene critical for heart function – It’s a gene called DOT1L, and if you don’t have enough of the DOT1L enzyme, you could be at risk for some types of heart disease. These are the findings from a study led by researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine.
  • A loose grip provides better chemotherapy – Researchers at Case Western Reserve University have developed a little bomb that promises a big bang for cancer patients. Preliminary tests show an anti-cancer drug loosely attached to gold nanoparticles starts accumulating deep inside tumors within minutes of injection and can be activated for an effective treatment within two hours.
  • Strychnine in just six steps – Strychnine, best known as a poison but also used medicinally as a stimulant, can now be synthesised in just six steps, say US scientists. Christopher Vanderwal and his team from the University of California, Irvine created four new carbon-carbon bonds and a carbon-oxygen bond in four steps on the way to making strychnine

Robert Slinn refluxes the chemistry news and extracts a goodly yield for Reactive Reports in his regular column: Slinn Pickings.