Here is the latest American Chemical Society (ACS) Office of Public Affairs Weekly PressPac with news from ACS’ 34 peer-reviewed journals and Chemical & Engineering News.
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Please cite the individual journal, or the American Chemical Society, as the source of this information.
The “vegetable lamb” plant — once believed to bear fruit that ripened into a living baby sheep — produces substances that show promise in laboratory experiments as new treatments for osteoporosis, the bone-thinning disease. That’s the conclusion of a new study in ACS’ monthly Journal of Natural Products.
Young Ho Kim and colleagues point out that osteoporosis is a global health problem, affecting up to 6 million women and 2 million men in the United States alone.
Doctors know that the secret to strong bones involves a delicate balance between two types of bone cells: Osteoblasts, which build up bone, and osteoclasts, which break down bone.
This illustration shows the
fabled “Vegetable Lamb
of Tartary,” a plant
once believed to ripen
into a baby sheep. The
plant now shows promise
for treating osteoporosis.
Credit: Wikimedia Commons
Seeking potential medications that might tip the balance in favor of bone building, the researchers turned to the “vegetable lamb” plant as part of a larger study plants used in folk medicine in Vietnam. In the 16th and 17th centuries, some of the world’s most celebrated scientists believed the plant (Cibotium barmoetz) fruited into a newly born lamb, which then grazed on nearby grass and weeds.
Kim’s group isolated compounds from C. barmoetz and showed that they blocked formation of bone-destroying osteoclasts formation in up to 97 percent of the cells in laboratory cultures without harmful effects on other cells.
The substances “could be used in the development of therapeutic targets for osteoporosis,” the article notes.
Scientists are reporting the first evidence that China’s sharp focus on reducing widespread damage to soil by acid rain by restricting sulfur dioxide air pollution may have an unexpected consequence: Gains from that pollution control program will be largely offset by increases in nitrogen emissions, which the country’s current policy largely overlooks. The study, which suggests that government officials adapt a more comprehensive pollution control strategy that includes a new emphasis on cutting nitrogen emissions, is scheduled for the Nov. 1 issue of ACS’ Environmental Science & Technology, a semi-monthly journal.
Lei Duan and colleagues explain that China is trying to stop soil acidification by reducing sulfur dioxide pollution from electric power plant smokestacks. Those emissions cause acid rain, which in turn has made vast areas of farmland more acid and less productive.
A new study urges China
to take steps to reduce
nitrogen emissions, which
contribute to acid rain that
can damage soil and
plants like these trees.
Credit: Wikimedia Commons
China is striving for a 10 percent reduction in sulfur dioxide emissions by 2010, a policy that seems have had only a limited impact so far, the researchers say. However, China has paid little attention to pollution from nitrogen oxides, which also contribute to acid rain and soil contamination.
The scientists’ analysis found that the benefits of sulfur dioxide reductions will almost be offset by increased nitrogen emissions. To control this problem, “China needs a multipollutant control strategy that integrates measures to reduce sulfur, nitrogen, and particulate matter,” the article notes.
Researchers have established the conditions that foster formation of potentially dangerous levels of a toxic substance in the high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) often fed to honey bees. Their study, which appears in ACS’ bi-weekly Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, could also help keep the substance out of soft drinks and dozens of other human foods that contain HFCS. The substance, hydroxymethylfurfural (HMF), forms mainly from heating fructose.
In the new study, Blaise LeBlanc and Gillian Eggleston and colleagues note HFCS’s ubiquitous usage as a sweetener in beverages and processed foods. Some commercial beekeepers also feed it to bees to increase reproduction and honey production. When exposed to warm temperatures, HFCS can form HMF and kill honeybees. Some researchers believe that HMF may be a factor in Colony Collapse Disorder, a mysterious disease that has killed at least one-third of the honeybee population in the United States.
The scientists measured levels of HMF in HFCS products from different manufacturers over a period of 35 days at different temperatures. As temperatures rose, levels of HMF increased steadily. Levels jumped dramatically at about 120 degrees Fahrenheit. “The data are important for commercial beekeepers, for manufacturers of HFCS, and for purposes of food storage. Because HFCS is incorporated as a sweetener in many processed foods, the data from this study are important for human health as well,” the report states. It adds that studies have linked HMF to DNA damage in humans. In addition, HMF breaks down in the body to other substances potentially more harmful than HMF.
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Economy-minded consumers who want protection from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays — but rather not pay premium prices for sun-protective clothing — should think blue and red, rather than yellow. Scientists in Spain are reporting that the same cotton fabric dyed deep blue or red provide greater UV protection than shades of yellow.
Their study, which could lead to fabrics with better sun protection, is scheduled for the Nov. 4 issue of ACS’ Industrial & Engineering Chemistry Research, a bi-weekly journal.
Ascensión Riva and colleagues explain that the color of a fabric is one of the most important factors in determining how well clothing protects against UV radiation.
Gaps, however, exist in scientific knowledge about exactly how color interacts with other factors to influence a fabric’s ability to block ultraviolet protection factor (UPF).
When choosing clothing to
protect against the sun’s
harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays,
people should consider blue
or red colors rather than
yellow. A new study shows
that these darker colors, when
applied to cotton fabrics, tend
to have better UV absorption.
The scientists describe use of computer models that relate the level of UV protection achieved with three fabric dyes to their effects in changing the UPF of fabrics and other factors. In doing so, they dyed cotton fabrics in a wide range of red, blue, and yellow shades and measured the ability of each colored sample to absorb UV light.
Fabrics with darker or more intense colors tended to have better UV absorption. Deep blue shades offered the highest absorption, while yellow shades offered the least. Clothing manufacturers could use information from this study to better design sun-protective clothing, the scientists indicate.
Each of the 6.7 billion people on Earth has a signature body odor — the chemical counterpart to fingerprints — and scientists are tracking down those odiferous arches, loops, and whorls in the “human odorprint” for purposes ranging from disease diagnosis to crime prevention. That’s the topic of an article in the current issue of Chemical & Engineering News, ACS’ weekly newsmagazine.
C&EN Senior Correspondent Ivan Amato points out that police long have used trained dogs to sniff out these uniquely personal scents in pursuing criminals. Scientists now are trying to decipher the chemistry of human odor to develop technology that can detect and classify smells.
That’s a difficult task, the article says, noting that each person’s odorprint is a complex mixture impacted by multiple environmental factors, including diet and cosmetics.
The article describes progress in that direction, explaining that scientists already have identified odors in human breath and skin associated with diabetes, cancer, and other diseases. Scientists are even trying to detect the “smell of deception,” or chemical changes that occur with heightened stress that may help screen and identify, for example, terrorists planning to blow up an airplane and criminals intending to rob a bank.
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PressPac information is intended for your personal use in news gathering and reporting and should not be distributed to others. Anyone using advance PressPac information for stocks or securities dealing may be guilty of insider trading under the federal Securities Exchange Act of 1934.
The American Chemical Society is a nonprofit organization chartered by the U.S. Congress. With more than 154,000 members, ACS is the world’s largest scientific society and a global leader in providing access to chemistry-related research through its multiple databases, peer-reviewed journals and scientific conferences. Its main offices are in Washington, D.C., and Columbus, Ohio.