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American Chemical Society Weekly PressPac -- April 15, 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:


First broad spectrum anti-microbial paint to kill "superbugs"
ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces

Scientists in South Dakota are reporting development of the first broad-spectrum antimicrobial paint, a material that can simultaneously kill not just disease-causing bacteria but mold, fungi, and viruses. Designed to both decorate and disinfect homes, businesses, and health-care settings, the paint is the most powerful to date, according to their new study. It appears in the current issue of the monthly ACS' Applied Materials & Interfaces. The paint shows special promise for fighting so-called "superbugs," antibiotic-resistant microbes that infect hospital surfaces and cause an estimated 88,000 deaths annually in the United States, the researchers say.

In the study, Yuyu Sun and Zhengbing Cao note in the antimicrobial paints already on are store shelves. These paints, however, are only effective against a narrow range of disease-causing microorganisms, limiting their usefulness.

The scientists already were aware of research on the germ-killing effects of that N-halamines, bleach-like substances already in wide use. They developed a new antimicrobial polymer that includes a type of N-halamine. It has no undesirable effects on the quality of latex paints. Laboratory tests showed that the new polymer kills a wide range of disease-causing microbes including those resistant to multiple antibiotics. The paint retains an anti-microbial punch for extended periods, and it can be easily "recharged" with a simple chlorination process, the researchers note. - MTS


Yuyu Sun, Ph.D.
Biomedical Engineering Program
University of South Dakota
Sioux Falls, South Dakota
Phone: 605-275-8793


Atmospheric engineering scheme to combat global warming could diminish solar power
Environmental Science & Technology

A widely discussed "atmospheric engineering" scheme intended to combat global warming could have unanticipated consequences in reducing the effectiveness of certain kinds of solar power around the Earth, a new study has concluded. It is appears in the current issue of ACS' Environmental Science & Technology, a semi-monthly journal.

In the study, the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration's Daniel M. Murphy examines a proposal to minimize climate change by enhancing the stratospheric aerosol layer, which reduces sunlight to Earth by scattering it to outer space. But this approach has considerable implications on the ability to concentrate solar power, Murphy says. For example, the increased aerosols resulting from the 1991 eruption of Mt. Pinatubo in the Philippines reduced global sunlight by less than three percent but decreased output from some solar generating plants by about 20 percent.

Murphy's study found that aerosols reduce direct sunlight the kind that casts shadows much more than total sunlight. Each one percent reduction in the Earth's sunlight due to aerosols will cause a four to 10 percent loss in output from concentrating solar power applications. He notes, however, that flat solar hot water and photovoltaic panels which utilize both direct and diffuse (scattered) sunlight will have smaller performance losses than concentrating solar collectors.

"One consequence of deliberate enhancement of the stratospheric aerosol layer would be a significant reduction in the efficiency of solar power generation systems," Murphy concludes. "Any cooling of the Earth that relies on light scattering, including tropospheric aerosol scattering and increased cloudiness, by particles will also result in reductions in direct sunlight that are several times the reductions in total sunlight." - JS

"Effect of Stratospheric Aerosols on Direct Sunlight and Implications for Concentrating Solar Power"


Daniel M. Murphy, Ph.D.
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
Boulder, Colo. 80305
Phone: (303) 497-5640
Fax: (303) 497-5373


India's "holy powder" finally reveals its centuries-old secret
Journal of the American Chemical Society

Scientists in Michigan are reporting discovery of the secret behind the fabled healing power of the main ingredient in turmeric a spice revered in India as "holy powder." Their study on the ingredient, curcumin, appears in the Journal of the American Chemical Society, a weekly publication.

In the study, Ayyalusamy Ramamoorthy and colleagues point out that turmeric has been used for centuries in folk medicine to treat wounds, infections, and other health problems. Although modern scientific research on the spice has burgeoned in recent years, scientists until now did not know exactly how curcumin works inside the body.

Using a high-tech instrument termed solid-state NMR spectroscopy, the scientists discovered that molecules of curcumin act like a biochemical disciplinarian. They insert themselves into cell membranes and make the membranes more stable and orderly in a way that increases cells' resistance to infection by disease-causing microbes. - AD

"Determining the Effects of Lipophillic Drugs on Membrane Structure by Solid-State NMR Spectroscopy the Case of the Antioxidant Curcumin"


Ayyalusamy Ramamoorthy, Ph.D
University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, Mich.
Phone: 734-647-6572
Fax: 734-763-2307


Oh rats! New wireless sensor first for instant monitoring of brain oxygen
Analytical Chemistry

Scientists in Italy and Ireland are reporting development of the first wireless sensor that gives second-by-second readings of oxygen levels in the brain. The new microsensor smaller than a dime could become the basis for tiny devices to help test drugs and other treatments for patients with traumatic brain injury, Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases, and other conditions. The study appears in ACS' Analytical Chemistry, a semi-monthly journal.

In the new report, Pier Andrea Serra and colleagues note that the most common method for monitoring brain neurochemical levels is microdialysis, a technique that requires insertion of a relatively big probe into the brain. That technique, however, has several disadvantages including low sample rate and the necessity of a complex analytical apparatus.

Serra and colleagues describe development and testing in laboratory rats of a wireless sensor that overcomes some of those drawbacks. The scientists used a variety of techniques including physiological stimuli and pharmacological treatments to raise or lower their brain oxygen levels. The simple sensor quickly and reliably recorded real-time changes in these oxygen levels and can help provide a better understanding of the brain in health and disease, the researchers say. The proposed system could be used in conjunction with a wide range of microsensors and biosensors for monitoring small molecules in the brain. - MTS

"Real-Time Monitoring of Brain Tissue Oxygen Using a Miniaturized Biotelemetric Device Implanted in Freely Moving Rats"


Pier Andrea Serra MD, PhD
Medical School
University of Sassari
V.le S. Pietro 43/b
07100 - Sassari
Phone: 0039 079 228558
Fax: 0039 079 228525


"Neglected" diseases neglected no more
Chemical & Engineering News

A non-profit offshoot of famed Nobel Prize winning Mdecins sans Frontires is joining hands with pharmaceutical companies, government agencies and private donors in a new assault on neglected diseases. Those hard-to-treat diseases include leishmaniasis, sleeping sickness, and Chagas disease. These conditions infect millions of people worldwide each year, killing thousands. An article on this development is scheduled for the April 20 issue of Chemical & Engineering News, ACS' weekly newsmagazine.

C&EN senior editor Rick Mullin explains that just a decade ago major pharmaceutical companies devoted little attention to developing treatments for these diseases thus the term, "neglected" diseases. That situation, however, has changed, with a nonprofit organization called Drugs for Neglected Diseases Initiative (DNDi) leading the way. DNDi hopes to have at least 6 new drugs for neglected diseases by 2014.

DNDi already has raised $150 million from public and private donors and seeks an additional $200 million by 2014. That cash, combined with a new commitment among pharmaceutical companies, brightens hopes for improving health and saving lives in the developing world, the article suggests.

"Paying attention to neglected diseases"

This story will be available on April 20 at:

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


Contact: Michael Woods
American Chemical Society

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