Chemistry news distilled – Slinn Pickings

Guest contributor, chemist Robert Slinn of the University of Liverpool, filters the latest happenings from the world of chemistry.

  • Defense mechanism against bacteria and fungi deciphered – To defend microbial attacks, the human body naturally produces a group of antibiotics, called defensins. An interdisciplinary team of biochemists and medical scientists has now deciphered the mechanism of action of a defensin, hitherto looked upon as exhibiting only minor activity. Their results might be useful in future drug development for inflammatory and infectious diseases. Nature now presents their findings online ahead of the print publication.
  • Montrealers feed Prozac to fish – About one in four Montrealers consumes some form of antidepressant and, according to new research, these drugs are transported by water pipes and have an effect on fish. This discovery is of importance to the international system since the wastewater treatment municipal resembles those of other major cities and is also recognized as the third largest treatment system in the world. Led by Professor Sébastien Sauvé, Department of Chemistry, University of Montreal and Andre Lajeunesse, PhD, the research team discovered that drugs accumulate in tissues of fish and affect their brain activity (may need online translation).
  • SNPs on display – DNA origami and atomic force microscopy have been combined to reliably detect and image single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) – the most common form of genetic variation in the human genome. The advance could contribute to the growing field of personalised medicine, and illustrates the potential of DNA origami for diagnostic applications.
  • Black TiO2 absorbs light across the spectrum – Researchers in the US have used hydrogenation to introduce disorder into titanium dioxide nanocrystals, increasing the amount of solar light they absorb. They hope the black TiO2 produced could be used to generate cheap hydrogen fuel.
  • Lubricant in fingermarks could catch out sexual offenders – Sexual offenders hoping to outsmart police by using a condom during their crimes may be out of luck thanks to a technique being developed at Sheffield Hallam University.