March 2011 – Issue 3
More than 13,000 scientists and others from all over the world will converge on Anaheim March 27-31 for the American Chemical Society’s 241st National Meeting & Exposition. During the meeting, there will be over 9,500 presentations on new discoveries that span science’s horizons – from astronomy to zoology, along with a focus on the theme, “Chemistry of Natural Resources.”
In addition to the talks, we hope you will join us in celebrating the International Year of Chemistry (IYC 2011), at the ACS International Activities Committee’s reception during the Anaheim meeting. Take this opportunity to meet ACS and IUPAC/US National Committee leadership on Sunday, March 27, 5:30-7:30 p.m., at the Hyatt Regency Orange County. RSVP now to join this celebration of IYC 2011, a global event that celebrates chemistry and its power to improve people’s lives.
And if you can’t join us in Anaheim, you can keep up with some of the newsworthy highlights in the ACS Press Room, where you’ll be able to read summaries of the research presented at the meeting.
In the meantime, be sure to check out our selection of articles for March around the four core themes of the International Year of Chemistry – health, energy, environment, and materials with free access to the related news and research articles. We hope you share our fascination with the progress toward potential new drugs for Alzheimers’ disease; the creation of inexpensive and efficient water filters; the recent advances in the use of nanotechnology to cure cancer; and the IYC Virtual Journal’s other vignettes on chemistry.
High Speed Water Sterilization Using
David T. Schoen, Alia P. Schoen, Liangbing Hu, Han Sun Kim, Sarah C. Heilshorn and Yi Cui
Nano Lett., 2010, 10 (9), pp 3628–3632
Electrified nano filter promises to cut costs for clean drinking water
Yi Cui and colleagues report the development and successful initial tests of an inexpensive new filtering technology that kills up to 98 percent of disease-causing bacteria in water in seconds without clogging. Most water purifiers work by trapping bacteria in tiny pores of filter material, but pushing water through those filters requires electric pumps and consumes a lot of energy. In addition, the filters can get clogged and must be changed periodically. The scientists knew that contact with silver and electricity can destroy bacteria. So they spread sub-microscopic silver nanowires onto cotton, and then added a coating of carbon nanotubes, which give the filter extra electrical conductivity. The filter material never clogged, and the water flowed through it very quickly without any need for a pump. “Such technology could dramatically lower the cost of a wide array of filtration technologies for water as well as food, air, and pharmaceuticals where the need to frequently replace filters is a large cost and difficult challenge,” their report states.
Cigarette Butts and Their Application in Corrosion Inhibition for N80 Steel at 90 °C in a Hydrochloric Acid Solution
Jun Zhao, Ningsheng Zhang, Chengtun Qu, Xinmin Wu, Juantao Zhang and Xiang Zhang
Ind. Eng. Chem. Res., 2010, 49 (8), pp 3986–3991
Recycling “tiny trash” – cigarette butts
Industrial & Engineering Chemistry Research
Jun Zhao and colleagues describe the discovery of a way to reuse cigarette butts to prevent steel corrosion that costs oil producers millions of dollars annually. They cite one estimate that 4.5 trillion cigarette butts find their way into the environment each year. They contain toxins that can kill fish and harm the environment in other ways. The scientists showed that extracts of cigarette butts in water, applied to a type of steel (N80) widely used in the oil industry, protected the steel from rusting even under the harsh conditions, preventing costly damage and interruptions in oil production. They identified nine chemicals in the extracts, including nicotine, which appear to be responsible for this anti-corrosion effect.
Global Gene Expression Profiling in Larval Zebrafish Exposed to Microcystin-LR and Microcystis Reveals Endocrine Disrupting Effects of Cyanobacteria
Emily D. Rogers, Theodore B. Henry, Michael J. Twiner, Julia S. Gouffon, Jackson T. McPherson, Gregory L. Boyer, Gary S. Sayler, and Steven W. Wilhelm
Environ. Sci. Technol., 2011, 45 (5), pp 1962–1969
First identification of endocrine disruptors in algae blooms
Environmental Science & Technology
Theodore Henry and colleagues are reporting for the first time that previously unrecognized substances released by algae blooms have the potential to act as endocrine disruptors, which can interfere with the normal activity of reproductive hormones. The algae produce microcystins that can harm fish, plants, and human health. Although scientists have focused mainly on microcystins’ biological effects, new evidence suggests that other potentially harmful substances also may be present. In an effort to find out, Emily Rogers supervised by Theodore Henry, and co-authors Michael Twiner, Julia Gouffon, Jackson McPherson, Gregory Boyer, Gary Sayler, and Steven Wilhelm turned to zebrafish, often used as a stand-in for people and other animals in laboratory experiments. They found that something released by algae, other than microcystins, had an endocrine disrupting effect on the fish. The report recommends that environmental protection agencies may need to update monitoring programs for algae blooms to include potential endocrine-disrupting substances.
Forecasting Global Generation
of Obsolete Personal Computers
Jinglei Yu, Eric Williams, Meiting Ju and Yan Yang
Environ. Sci. Technol., 2010, 44 (9), pp 3232–3237
Developing world will produce double the e-waste of developed countries by 2030
Environmental Science & Technology
Eric Williams and colleagues predict that developing countries will be producing at least twice as much electronic waste (e-waste) as developed countries within the next 20 years. It foresees in 2030 developing countries discarding 400 million – 700 million obsolete personal computers per year compared to 200 million – 300 million in developed countries. That trend has led to global concern about environmentally safe ways of disposing of e-waste, which contains potentially toxic substances. “Our central assertion is that the new structure of global e-waste generation discovered here, combined with economic and social considerations, call for a serious reconsideration of e-waste policy,” the report notes.
The Red Mud Accident in Ajka (Hungary): Characterization and Potential Health Effects of Fugitive Dust
András Gelencsér, Nóra Kováts, Beatrix Turóczi, Ágnes Rostási, András Hoffer, Kornélia Imre, Ilona Nyirõ-Ksa, Dorottya Csákberényi-Malasics, Ádám Tóth, Aladár Czitrovszky, Attila Nagy, Szabolcs Nagy, András Ács, Anikó Kovács, Árpád Ferincz, Zsuzsanna Hartyáni, and Mihály Pósfai
Environ. Sci. Technol., 2011, 45 (4), pp 1608–1615
Inhaling ‘Red Mud Disaster’ dust may not be as harmful to health as feared
Environmental Science & Technology
Mihály Pósfai and colleagues in Hungary are reporting that the potential health effects of October 2010′s Red Mud Disaster, one of the worst environmental accidents in Europe, may be less dangerous than previously feared. A burst dam at a factory that processes aluminum ore last October inundated areas near Ajka in northern Hungary with more than 700,000 cubic yards of caustic red mud. Since the mud contained potentially toxic substances, concern arose about the health effects of inhaling dust formed when the mud dried and was swept into the air by wind. They studied the chemical and physical properties of the red mud particles and dust and concluded that particles of red mud dust were too large to be inhaled deeply into lungs, where they could cause the most damage. Although the resuspension potential of red mud dust is large, inhalation likely would cause irritation and coughing, but would not increase the risk of other more serious health problems, the report suggested.
ZnO Particulate Matter Requires Cell Contact for Toxicity
in Human Colon Cancer Cells
Philip J. Moos, Kevin Chung, David Woessner, Matthew Honeggar, N. Shane Cutler and John M. Veranth
Chem. Res. Toxicol., 2010, 23 (4), pp 733–739
Evidence that nanoparticles in sunscreens could be toxic if accidentally eaten
Chemical Research in Toxicology
Philip Moos and colleagues note in a report in Chemical Research in Toxciology that zinc oxide particles smaller than 100 nanometers in size are slightly more toxic to colon cells than conventional zinc oxide, which is widely used in sunscreens. Their experiments with cell cultures of colon cells compared the effects of zinc oxide nanoparticles to zinc oxide sold as a conventional powder. They found that the nanoparticles were twice as toxic to the cells as the larger particles. The concentration of nanoparticles that was toxic to the colon cells was equivalent to eating 2 grams of sunscreen – about 0.1 ounce. This study used isolated cells to study biochemical effects and did not consider the changes to particles during passage through the digestive tract. The scientists say that further research should be done to determine whether zinc nanoparticle toxicity occurs in laboratory animals and people.
The Amyloid Question
Lisa M. Jarvis
Volume 88, Number 14 pp. 12 – 17
The full story is available at
Potential new Alzheimer’s drugs advancing in clinical trials
Chemical & Engineering News
C&EN Senior Editor Lisa Jarvis assesses the scientific foundation and clinical landscape of abnormal clumps of protein in the brain called amyloid-beta. She notes that amyloid-beta is at the heart of a central hypothesis – and simmering controversy – about Alzheimer’s disease. Some scientists are convinced that amyloid-beta is the root cause of the nerve-cell death and subsequent mental decline in individuals with Alzheimer’s disease. Others think that something else, perhaps a still-unidentified environmental neurotoxin, is the real culprit. That mystery agent, they suspect, triggers formation of beta-amyloid. If clinical trials are successful, doctors within 5-10 years could have an arsenal of new drugs that can slow the progression of Alzheimer’s. If the trials fail, it’s back to the drawing board to find new hypothesis and drug targets for the disease, the article notes.
Recent Advances from the National Cancer Institute Alliance for Nanotechnology in Cancer
Dorothy Farrell, Joe Alper, Krzystof Ptak, Nicholas J. Panaro, Piotr Grodzinski* and Anna D. Barker
ACS Nano, 2010, 4 (2), pp 589–594
New advances in science of the ultra-small promise big benefits for cancer patients
A $145-million Federal Government effort to harness the power of nanotechnology to improve the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of cancer is producing innovations that will radically improve care for the disease. That’s the conclusion of an update on the status of the program, called the National Cancer Institute Alliance for Nanotechnology in Cancer. Piotr Grodzinski and colleagues note in the article that the alliance, launched in 2004, funds and coordinates research specifically intended to move knowledge about the small science out of laboratories and into hospitals and doctors’ offices in a big way. The article describes a range of potential advances, including earlier disease diagnosis, highly targeted treatments that kill cancer cells but leave normal cells alone, fewer side effects, and improved survival.
Mucoadhesive Nanoparticles as Carrier Systems for Prolonged Ocular Delivery of Gatifloxacin/Prednisolone Bitherapy
Howida Kamal Ibrahim, Iman Sadar El-Leithy and Amna Awad Makky
Mol. Pharmaceutics, 2010, 7 (2), pp 576–585
Toward simplifying treatment of a serious eye infection
Howida Kamal Ibrahim and colleagues report the development of a potential new way of enabling patients with bacterial keratitis to stick with the extraordinarily intensive treatment needed for this potentially blinding eye infection. Bacterial keratitis is a rapidly-progressing infection of the cornea that affects more than half a million people each year worldwide. The treatment requires that patients frequently use antibiotic eye medicine – one drop every 5 minutes to start and then more drops every 15-30 minutes for up to 3 days – and daily use of anti-inflammatory drugs. This intensive treatment regimen is difficult for patients to follow and often requires putting them into a hospital to assure they get adequate treatment. The researchers describe the development of a new two-in-one formula that combines the antibiotic and anti-inflammatory drug into a single medication. In tests with lab animals, the drops delivered five times more medication to the eye and it remained there three times longer than existing medicine.
In Vitro Analysis of Acetalated Dextran Microparticles as a Potent Delivery Platform for Vaccine Adjuvants
Eric M. Bachelder, Tristan T. Beaudette, Kyle E. Broaders, Jean M. J. Fréchet, Mark T. Albrecht, Alfred J. Mateczun, Kristy M. Ainslie, John T. Pesce and Andrea M. Keane-Myers
Mol. Pharmaceutics, 2010, 7 (3), pp 826–835
Prescription drug could boost effects of vaccines for HIV and other diseases
John Pesce and colleagues at the Naval Medical Research Center and UC-Berkeley note that vaccines prepared from weakened or inactivated viruses or bacteria have had enormous success in preventing polio, influenza, and other diseases. However, vaccines containing living or weakened viruses cannot be used for HIV, hepatitis C, and other devastating diseases due to safety concerns. Scientists are instead trying to develop a new generation of vaccines, made with DNA or proteins from infectious agents that can prevent illness without carrying a risk of causing the diseases. These vaccines will be weaker than conventional vaccines and require a new generation of “adjuvants,” ingredients that boost a vaccine’s immunogenicity. The report identifies a promising candidate in the form of imiquimod, an immune-boosting drug already in general use to treat genital warts and skin cancer. The scientists coated imiquimod with dextran-based microparticles in hopes of increasing the efficiency of cellular uptake by cells associated with immune response initiation. The coated drug significantly boosted levels of inflammatory cytokines in laboratory cultures of immune cells from mice.
Hands, Water, and Health: Fecal Contamination in Tanzanian Communities with Improved, Non-Networked Water Supplies
Amy J. Pickering, Jennifer Davis, Sarah P. Walters, Helena M. Horak, Daniel P. Keymer, Douglas Mushi, Rachelle Strickfaden, Joshua S. Chynoweth, Jessie Liu, Annalise Blum, Kirsten Rogers and Alexandria B. Boehm
Environ. Sci. Technol., 2010, 44 (9), pp 3267–3272
Real-world proof of hand washing’s effectiveness
Environmental Science & Technology
Alexandria Boehm, Jenna Davis, and their students note that almost half of the world’s population – over 3 billion people – have no access to municipal drinking water supply systems. They obtain drinking water from wells, springs, and other sources, and store it in jugs and other containers in their homes. Past research showed that this stored water contained nearly 100 times more fecal bacteria than the source where it was collected. The scientists found a strong link between fecal contamination on the hands of household residents and bacterial contamination in stored water in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. “The results suggest that reducing fecal contamination on hands should be investigated as a strategy for improving stored drinking water quality and health among households using non-networked water supplies,” the report notes.
Piezoelectric Ribbons Printed onto Rubber for Flexible Energy Conversion
Yi Qi, Noah T. Jafferis, Kenneth Lyons, Jr., Christine M. Lee, Habib Ahmad and Michael C. McAlpine
Nano Lett., 2010, 10 (2), pp 524–528
An electrifying discovery: New material to harvest electricity from body movements
Michael McAlpine and colleagues describe development of flexible, biocompatible rubber films for use in implantable or wearable energy harvesting systems. So-called “piezoelectric” materials are obvious candidates for harvesting energy from body movements, since they generate electricity when flexed or subjected to pressure. However, manufacturing piezoelectric materials requires temperatures of more than 1,000 degrees F., making it difficult to combine them with rubber. The scientists describe a new manufacturing method that applies nano-sized ribbons of lead zirconate titanate (PZT) – each strand about 1/50,000th the width of a human hair – to ribbons of flexible silicone rubber. PZT is one of the most efficient piezoelectric materials developed to date and can convert 80 percent of mechanical energy into electricity. The material could be used, for instance, to harvest energy from the motion of the lungs during breathing and use it to run pacemakers without the need for batteries that must be surgically replaced every few years.
Recovery of Nanoparticles Made Easy
Olesya Myakonkaya, Clément Guibert,
Julian Eastoe and Isabelle Grillo
Langmuir, 2010, 26 (6), pp 3794–3797
New method for recovering pricey nanoparticles
Julian Eastoe and colleagues are reporting first use of a new method that may make it easier for manufacturers to recover, recycle, and reuse nanoparticles, some of which ounce for ounce can be more precious than gold. Recovering and recycling nanoparticles is especially difficult because they tend to form complex, hard-to-separate mixtures with other substances. They describe the development of a special type of microemulsion from cadmium and zinc nanoparticles, which separated into two layers when heated. One layer contained nanoparticles that could be recovered and the other contained none. The separation process is reversible and the recovered particles retain their shape and chemical properties, which is crucial for their reuse. The method, which offers a solution to a nagging problem, could speed application of nanotechnology in new generations of solar cells, flexible electronic displays, and other products.