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American Chemical Society Weekly PressPac -- April 1, 2009

Here is the latest American Chemical Society (ACS) Weekly PressPac from the Office of Public Affairs. It has news from ACS' 34 peer-reviewed journals and Chemical & Engineering News.

Please credit the individual journal or the American Chemical Society as the source for this information.

PressPac Archive:


The biochemical buzz on career changes in bees
Journal of Proteome Research

Adults facing unexpected career changes, take note. Scientists from Brazil and Cuba are reporting that honey bees a mainstay for behavioral research that cannot be done in other animals change their brains before transitioning to that new job. Appears in the current edition of ACS' monthly Journal of Proteome Research, the research provides valuable insight into the biochemistry behind the behavior, feats of navigation, and social organization in these animals.

In the study, Marcelo Valle de Sousa and colleagues point out that worker bees begin adult life by performing tasks in the nest such as brood nursing. By 2-3 weeks of age, however, these females equivalent to middle age in human years switch to foraging for nectar and pollen. Foraging requires a new skill set that includes uncanny ability to navigate to and from feeding sites, communicating the location of food to other bees, and flights of hundreds of miles in a lifetime.

The researchers collected and analyzed hundreds of bee brains, comparing the proteins scripted by the genes in nurses and foragers in order to find proteins related to the genetic and behavioral shifts during these career transitions. The brains of nurse bees have higher levels of certain "royal jelly" proteins involved in caste determination. Experienced foragers, in contrast, over expressed proteins linked to energy production and other activities.

"Our study demonstrated clear brain proteome differences between honey bee nurse and forager subcastes with distinct social roles," the study says. - AD

"Proteomic Analysis of Honey Bee Brain upon Ontogenetic and Behavioral Development"


Marcelo Valle de Sousa, Ph.D.
University of Braslia
Braslia, DF, Brazil
Fax: +55-61-33072142 Ext. 26


"Magic potion" in fly spit may shoo away blinding eye disease
Journal of Proteome Research

Researchers are reporting the first identification of a "magic potion" of proteins in the saliva of the black fly that help this blood-sucking pest spread parasites that cause "river blindness," a devastating eye-disease. A better understanding of these proteins may lead to better drugs and a vaccine for river blindness and other diseases spread by biting insects. Also known as onchocerciasis, river blindness affects more than 17 million people worldwide, particularly in rural Africa. The report appears in the current edition of ACS' Journal of Proteome Research, a monthly publication.

In the new study, Jos M.C. Ribeiro and colleagues explain that the saliva of adult female black flies contains substances that mute the human body's natural defenses. This chemical cocktail makes the body more vulnerable to disease when infected flies bite into the skin. Until now, however, nobody had identified the specific chemicals involved in this devious action.

The scientists collected salivary glands from hundreds of adult female black flies and isolated the proteins using high-tech analytical gear. They identified 72 different proteins, including several new to science. These proteins could serve as the basis for developing drugs or vaccines against diseases transmitted by the black fly and other blood-sucking insects, including mosquitoes, midges, and sand flies, the researchers say. - MTS

"Insight into the Sialome of the Black Fly, Simulium vittatum


Jos M.C. Ribeiro, M.D., Ph.D.
Laboratory of Malaria and Vector Research
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases
Rockville, Md. 20852
Phone: 301-496-9389
Fax: 301-480-2571


New gas storage material: One ounce has surface area of 30 football fields
Journal of the American Chemical Society

In a finding that may help speed the production of ultra-clean fuel cell vehicles powered by hydrogen, scientists in Michigan are reporting development of a sponge-like nanomaterial with a record-high surface area for holding gases. Just 1/30th of an ounce of the material has the approximate surface area of a football field. Their study is scheduled for the April 1 issue of the Journal of the American Chemical Society, a weekly publication.

Adam Matzger and colleagues note in the new study that scientists have tried for years to find a material to optimize hydrogen storage in futuristic fuel cell vehicles. Despite identifying several promising materials, researchers have been unable to meet the hydrogen storage goals proposed by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) for hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, they state.

They describe development of a highly-porous nanomaterial with an unprecedented ability to absorb gases that may help meet DOE's target. Called University of Michigan Crystalline Material-2 (UMCM-2), it consists of zinc oxide nanoclusters each about 1/50,000 the width of a human hair linked together by organic materials to generate a robust porous framework. The scientists showed that UMCM-2 has a surface area exceeding 5,000 square meters per gram which is, they say, the highest value ever achieved. - MTS

"A Porous Coordination Copolymer with over 5000 m2/g BET Surface Area"


Adam J. Matzger, Ph.D.
Department of Chemistry
Macromolecular Science and Engineering
University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, Michigan 48109-1055
Phone: 734-615-6627


Boosting energy production from "ice that burns"
Industrial & Engineering Chemistry Research

In a step toward using gas hydrates as a future energy source, researchers in New York are reporting the first identification of an optimal temperature and pressure range for maximizing production of natural gas from the icy hydrate material. Their study appears in the March 18 issue of ACS' Industrial & Engineering Chemistry Research, a bi-weekly journal.

Marco Castaldi, Yue Zhou, and Tuncel Yegualp note that gas hydrates, also known as "ice that burns," are a frozen form of natural gas (methane). This material exists in vast deposits beneath the ocean floor and Arctic permafrost in the United States and other areas. Scientists believe that fuel from these frozen chunks, formed at cold temperatures and high pressures, may help fuel cars, heat homes, and power factories in the future. Although scientists have identified several different methods for extracting the fuel, including depressurization, researchers have not found an practical approach for producing the gas on an industrial scale.

To reach this goal, the researchers built what they believe to be the world's largest experimental reactor, filled with sand, water, and methane, to simulate the formation gas hydrates (at low temperatures and high pressure) and production of the gas. While depressurizing the hydrates to free the methane, they observed an optimal boost in gas production between a narrow range of temperatures and pressures. Maintaining gas production at these settings could be a key step in boosting production of methane at an industrial scale, the researchers suggest. - MTS

"Experimental Investigation of Methane Gas Production from Methane Hydrate"


Marco J. Castaldi, Ph.D.
Columbia University
New York, NY 10027
Phone: 1-212-854-6390
Fax: 1-212-854-7081


Bonanza of new oral drugs offers hope for MS patients
Chemical & Engineering News

Years of scientific research on multiple sclerosis (MS) are showing signs of paying off, with almost a dozen potential new drugs in the final stages of clinical trials and moving toward pharmacy shelves, according to an article scheduled for the April 6 issue of Chemical & Engineering News, ACS' weekly newsmagazine. Those drugs could double the number of medications available to treat MS which affects about 400,000 people in the United States over the next several years.

In the article, C&EN senior editor Lisa Jarvis explains that MS is a disease in which the immune system attacks myelin, a protective coating on many nerve fibers. This attack triggers a slowly worsening host of symptoms. Twenty years ago, few effective medicines were available for these patients.

Many of the new drugs are pills rather than injectable medicines, making it easier for patients to take the medication over long periods of time. Most of the drugs ease the immune system damage to myelin or offer protection to already-damaged nerves.

"Hope in a pill"

This story will be available on April 6 at

Michael Bernstein
ACS News Service
Phone: 202-872-6042
Fax: 202-872-4370


Contact: Michael Woods
American Chemical Society

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