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American Chemical Society weekly presspac -- June 10, 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:


New tests: Marijuana damages DNA and may cause cancer
Chemical Research in Toxicology

Using a highly sensitive new test, scientists in Europe are reporting "convincing evidence" that marijuana smoke damages the genetic material DNA in ways that could increase the risk of cancer. Their study is scheduled for the June 15 issue of ACS' Chemical Research in Toxicology, a monthly journal.

Rajinder Singh and colleagues note that toxic substances in tobacco smoke can damage DNA and increase the risk of lung and other cancers. However, there has been uncertainty over whether marijuana smoke has the same effect. Scientists are especially concerned about the toxicity of acetaldehyde, present in both tobacco and marijuana. However, it has been difficult to measure DNA damage from acetaldehyde with conventional tests.

The scientists describe development and use of a modified mass spectrometry method that showed clear indications that marijuana smoke damages DNA. "In conclusion, these results provide evidence for the DNA damaging potential of cannabis [marijuana] smoke, implying that the consumption of cannabis cigarettes may be detrimental to human health with the possibility to initiate cancer development," the article states. "The data obtained from this study suggesting the DNA damaging potential of cannabis smoke highlight the need for stringent regulation of the consumption of cannabis cigarettes, thus limiting the development of adverse health effects such as cancer."

"Evaluation of the DNA Damaging Potential of Cannabis Cigarette Smoke by the Determination of Acetaldehyde Derived N2-Ethyl-2-deoxyguanosine Adducts"


Rajinder Singh, Ph.D.
University of Leicester
Leicester, U.K.
Phone: 44-0116-223-1827
Fax: 44-0116-223-1840


Toward an "electronic nose" to sniff out kidney disease in exhaled breath
ACS Nano

Scientists in Israel have identified the key substances in exhaled breath associated with healthy and diseased kidneys raising expectations, they say, for development of long-sought diagnostic and screening tests that literally sniff out chronic renal failure (CRF) in its earliest and most treatable stages. Their report is in the current issue of ACS Nano, a monthly journal.

In the new study, Hossam Haick and colleagues point out that the blood and urine tests now used to diagnose CRF can be inaccurate and may come out "normal" even when patients have lost 75 percent of their kidney function. The most reliable test, a kidney biopsy, is invasive and may result in infections and bleeding. Doctors have long hoped for better tests for early detection of kidney disease.

The scientists describe tests of an experimental "electronic nose" on exhaled breath of laboratory rats with no kidney function and normal kidney function. The device identified 27 so-called volatile organic compounds that appear only in the breath of rats with CRF. The results presented in this study raise expectations for future capabilities for diagnosis, detection, and screening various stages of kidney disease," they said, noting that the tests could detect patients with early disease who could be treated in ways that could slow its progression.

"Sniffing Chronic Renal Failure in Rat Model by an Array of Random Networks of Single-Walled Carbon Nanotubes"


Hossam Haick, Ph.D.
Department of Chemical Engineering
Technion-Israel Institute of Technology
Haifa, Israel
Phone: 972-4-8293087
Fax: 972-4-8295672/2850


New approach in the quest for lighting's Holy Grail
Journal of the American Chemical Society

Researchers are reporting the first use of a fundamentally new approach in the quest to snare the Holy Grail of the lighting industry: An LED (light-emitting diode) those ultra-efficient, long-lived light sources that emits pure white light. The new approach yielded what the scientists describe as the most efficient and stable source of pure white light ever achieved. The advance could speed the development of this next-generation technology for improved lighting of homes, offices, displays, and other applications, they say. Their study appears in the May 29 online issue of the Journal of the American Chemical Society, a weekly publication.

Soo Young Park and colleagues note that white LEDs show promise as a brighter, longer-lasting and more energy-efficient light source than conventional lighting, such as incandescent and fluorescent lights, which they may replace in the future. But scientists have had difficulty producing white LEDs that are suitable for practical use. Existing technologies produce tinted shades of white light, require complex components, and become unstable over time.

The researchers describe development of a new, simpler white LED that is the first to achieve stable white light emissions using a single molecule. Their specially engineered molecule combines two light-emitting materials, one orange and one blue, which together produce white light over the entire visible range. In laboratory studies, the scientists showed that light production from an LED using the new molecule was highly efficient and had excellent color stability and reproducibility, features that make it a practical white light source.

"A White-Light-Emitting Molecule: Frustrated Energy Transfer between Constituent Emitting Centers"


Soo Young Park, Ph.D.
Department of Materials Science and Engineering
Seoul National University
Seoul, Korea
Phone: 82-2-880-8327
Fax: 82-2-885-1748


Reengineering a food poisoning microbe to carry medicines and vaccines
Molecular Pharmaceutics

Scientists have used genetic engineering to tame one of the most deadly food poisoning microbes and turn it into a potential new way of giving patients medicine and vaccines in pills rather than injections. The study is in the current issue of ACS' Molecular Pharmaceutics, a bi-monthly journal.

Colin Pouton and colleagues note that patients by far prefer pills and capsules to the discomfort and inconvenience of injections. But many medicines and vaccines cannot be given by mouth because they would be destroyed by stomach acid without being absorbed into the bloodstream. One promising approach is to use live bacteria, which can survive those harsh conditions and pass easily from the GI tract into the blood.

The scientists describe development of a new strain of Listeria monocytogenes, bacteria that normally cause food poisoning, but which have been genetically engineered to be harmless. Instead of causing disease, the new microbes can be loaded with medicine or vaccine, and deliver that beneficial cargo by "infecting" cells. After entering cells, the bacteria burst and die, leading to Pouton's term "suicidal strain" for the microbes. The researchers demonstrated that engineered bacteria containing a test protein could successfully penetrate a group of intestinal cells grown in the lab and deliver the protein inside the cells while leaving the cells unharmed. The findings suggest that the approach could potentially work in humans, the researchers say.

"A Stably engineered, Suicidal Strain of Listeria monocytogenes Delivers Protein and/or DNA to Fully Differentiated Intestinal Epithelial Monolayers"


Colin Pouton, Ph.D.
Medicinal Chemistry and Drug Action
Monash Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences
Monash University (Parkville Campus)
Melbourne, Australia
Phone: 61-3-99039562
Fax: 61-3-99039638


Solar energy technology gets more visually-appealing makeover
Chemical & Engineering News

Those unsightly rooftop solar panels hailed as energy savers but often frowned upon as neighborhood eyesores may soon become a thing of the past, according to an article scheduled for the June 15 issue of Chemical & Engineering News, ACS' weekly newsmagazine. It foresees a new generation of unobtrusive or even visually attractive solar panels that blend seamlessly into the architecture of homes and business.

C&EN senior business editor Melody Voith notes that scientists, engineers, and architects are developing new solar panels, including materials that resemble normal shingles and invisible solar films that can cover glass windows. There's a rapidly growing demand for these so-called building-integrated photovoltaics, or BIPV, that blend solar technology into the overall building aesthetic. One estimate suggests that the market for BIPV will grow by 18 percent a year through 2014, with revenues of about $780 million, according to the article.

Japan and Europe are now the strongest markets for BIPV. Sales are just beginning to rise in the United States, especially in states like sunny California, which offers generous subsidies for solar power. But several hurdles stand in the way of further expansion of this new solar technology, including a need for more efficient solar cells and demand for more durable and cost-effective materials. Although buildings clad in nearly invisible solar cells are mostly visions of the future, government incentives and ongoing technology improvements could combine to make this dream a widespread reality, the article suggests.

"Sneaky Solar"

This story will be available on June 15 at

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


Contact: Michael Woods
American Chemical Society

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