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American Chemical Society's Weekly PressPac -- Jan. 30, 2008


Iodized table salt may be low in iodine, raising health concerns
Environmental Science & Technology

Amid concern that people in the United States are consuming inadequate amounts of iodine, scientists in Texas have found that 53 percent of iodized salt samples contained less than the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommended level of this key nutrient. Iodized table salt is the main source of iodine for most individuals, they note in a study scheduled for the Feb. 15 issue of ACS Environmental Science & Technology, a semi-monthly journal.

Purnendu K. Dasgupta and colleagues point out that iodine intake has been decreasing in the United States for decades. The reasons include reduced use of iodine-based additives in livestock feed and bread, and public health warnings about salts role in high blood pressure. Iodine is especially important for normal brain development in newborn infants and children, they state, noting a link between iodine deficiency and attention deficit disorder or ADD that has been suggested by other researchers.

To assess the adequacy of iodine nutrition, the researchers tested 88 samples of iodized salt and found that 47 did not meet the FDAs recommended level. In addition, amount of iodine varied in individual packages and brands of salt. The researchers expressed particular concern about the adequacy of iodine nutrition in women who are pregnant or nursing. If salt does supply a significant portion of the iodine intake of a pregnant/lactating woman in the United States (note that a large fraction of postnatal vitamins contain no iodine), and she is unfortunate enough to pick a can of salt that is low in iodine or in which distribution is greatly uneven, there is a potential for serious harm, the study states. JS

Iodine Nutrition: Iodine Content of Iodized Salt in the United States

Purnendu K. Dasgupta, Ph.D.
The University of Texas at Arlington
Arlington, Tex. 76019-0065
Phone: 817-272-3171
Fax: 817-272-3808


New test answers frustrating question: Is Tweety a boy or a girl"
Analytical Chemistry

Scientists in Germany are reporting development of test that can answer one of the most frustrating questions in the animal kingdom: Is that bird a boy or a girl" Their study, a potential boon to poultry farmers and bird breeders, is scheduled for the Feb. 15 issue of ACS Analytical Chemistry, a semi-monthly journal.

Juergen Popp and colleagues point out that the boy-girl question can be difficult to answer in birds that lack distinctive, gender-related plumage. Since birds lack external genital organs, sexing a bird typically involves endoscopic examination of the animals gonads under general anesthesia or specific molecular biological methods. Since these methods are expensive, time-consuming, and stressful for the bird, scientists long have sought a quick, minimal-invasive sexing alternative.

In the new study, researchers describe such a test, which involves analysis of tissue pulp from birds feathers using a highly sensitive lab instrument. The method, called ultraviolet-resonance Raman (UVRR) spectroscopy, took less than a minute, and identified the birds sex with 95 percent accuracy, the scientists say. MTS

Minimal Invasive Gender Determination of Birds by Means of UV-Resonance Raman Spectroscopy


Juergen Popp, Prof.
Friedrich-Schiller-Universitt Jena
Jena, Germany
Phone: 49 3641 948320
Fax: 49 3641 948302


Toward an effective treatment for monkeypox
Journal of Proteome Research

Researchers in Washington and Oregon report an advance toward developing much-needed new drugs and vaccines for monkeypox. The disease occurs mainly among rodents, monkeys, and other animals in Africa, but has been transmitted to humans resulting in high mortality rates. Although this deadly viral disease rarely occurs naturally in the United States, it is a potential bioterrorism agent.

In an article scheduled for the March issue of the ACS' Journal of Proteome Research, Richard D. Smith and colleagues note that monkeypox is caused by a virus closely-related to smallpox. Naturally occurring smallpox has been eradicated worldwide thanks to a vaccine that has occasional serious side-effects. However, no safe and proven vaccine or effective medication currently exists for monkeypox.

In their study, mass spectrometry and other sensitive lab techniques were used to compare proteins produced by both monkeypox virus (MPV) and by the vaccinia virus (VV), which is the basis for current smallpox vaccines. The researchers identified nine proteins that were specific to MPV and eight that were specific to VV. Importantly, proteins present in MPV, but absent in VV seem to be critical for the high virulence of MPV, they point out. This knowledge may be the key to the development of new medications and vaccines for preventing and treating monkeypox, as well as to the production of safer versions of more general pox-related vaccines, the researchers say.

Comparative Proteomics of human Monkeypox and Vaccinia Intracellular Mature and Extracellular Enveloped Virions


Richard D. Smith, Ph.D.
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory
Richland, Washington 99352
Phone: 509-376-0723
Fax: 509-376-0722


Fungus among us: Invisible micropollutants invade crops, water supply
Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry

Theyre here, there, and everywhere: Toxins produced by a common fungus are spreading beyond food crops and invading the environment, including water supplies, with unknown consequences, researchers in Switzerland report. Their study, which reveals a need for stronger monitoring and control of these overlooked micropollutants, is scheduled for the Feb. 13 issue of ACS Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, a bi-weekly publication.

The contaminants are members of a larger family fungal-produced toxins called mycotoxins. In the report, Thomas Bucheli and colleagues note that scientists have studied two of the most common mycotoxins deoxynivalenol and zearalenone in food and animal feed products for decades. However, scientists know very little about the distribution of these toxins elsewhere in the environment.

In the new study, the researchers exposed a winter wheat field to Fusarium graminearum, a major fungal source of deoxynivalenol and zearalenone, and subsequently monitored these toxins in the fields drainage water before, during and after harvest. Using high-tech lab instruments, they found that levels of these toxins increased significantly after harvest. Levels of deoxynivalenol, for instance, rose by almost 4,000-fold. Traces of these toxins were also found in a number of Swiss rivers, they note.

Fusarium Mycotoxins: Overlooked Aquatic Micropollutants"


Thomas D. Bucheli, Ph.D.
Agroscope Reckenholz-Tnikon Research Station ART
Zurich, Switzerland
Phone: 41-44-377-73-42
Fax: 41-44-377-72-01


Chinas new Great Leap Forward in drug discovery
Chemical & Engineering News

In a modern-day counterpart to Mao Zedongs program to modernize the Chinese economy, Chinas pharmaceutical industry is quietly taking its own Great Leap Forward as a major force in drug discovery and development, according to an article scheduled for the Feb. 4 issue of Chemical & Engineering News, ACS weekly newsmagazine.

China already is an important source of active ingredients that large pharmaceutical companies in the United States and other countries use to make prescription and over-the-counter drugs. C&ENs cover story, by Senior Correspondent Jean-Franois Tremblay, notes that China is playing an increasingly important, yet mostly unrecognized role in drug discovery. Companies based in China that undertake research projects on behalf of foreign companies have in the past three years beefed up their range of services. From Shanghai to Beijing, new companies are being launched with research capabilities that, in terms of the time it takes to produce results, exceed those of Western pharmaceutical companies. A growing number of Chinese firms offer a full range of drug research and development services, including synthesis, process research and scale up, and animal testing, the article states. Within two years, the first drug to be mostly developed in China could begin human trials in the U.S., Tremblay says.

The growth in pharmaceutical services in China seems to be part of a major trend. Last century, we saw the pharmaceutical industry move from Europe to the United States, C&EN quotes a manager at one drug discovery company. Now, its perhaps moving to China and India.

Chinas Pharma Leaps into Discovery

This story will be available on Feb. 4 at

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

Journalists Resources

For Super Bowl Sunday: A Real-Life Superbowl Molecule

In a discovery that could score a touchdown for better health, chemists in Australia have made a superbowl molecule. Chemists in Australia used that name because the molecule has a bowl-shape that evokes images of sports venues like University of Phoenix Stadium, home to Sundays Super Bowl XLII. Molecules are atoms bound together. They are building blocks of everything in our everyday lives, including the real Super Bowl stadium and every person inside. A press release is available []. To view full text of the research article, click here. [].

Media registration opens for ACS National Meeting in New Orleans, April 6-10

Mark your calendars for one of the years largest and most important scientific events the 235th National Meeting and Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS), which will be held April 6-10, 2008, in New Orleans, La.

With more than 160,000 members in the United States and other countries, ACS is the worlds largest scientific society. About 12,000 scientists and others are expected for the event, which will include more than 9,000 reports on new discoveries in chemistry. Those reports span sciences horizons from astronomy to zoology and include a special focus on health, energy, food, environment, and alternative fuels.

In addition to coverage of breaking science news, the meeting provides an opportunity for independent reporting on disaster recovery efforts in the region prior to the June 1 start of the 2008 hurricane season.

For media registration, click here. [] Housing reservations are now open for those who plan to attend the meeting. The ACS Press Center will be located in Room 206 of the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center. It will include a media workroom with staff to assist in arranging interviews, press conferences, wireless Internet access, telephones, computers, photocopy and fax services, and refreshments.

For reporters planning to cover the meeting from their home bases, the ACS Office of Communications will provide an expanded suite of resources, including press releases, non-technical summaries of research presentations, and access to news briefings.

Updates on Fast-Breaking Advances in Nanoscience

The American Chemical Society has launched a new nanoscience and nanotechnology community Website. Called ACS Nanotation [], the site aims to become the premiere destination for nanoscience and nanotechnology news, highlights and community. Features include research highlights from ACS journals, career resources, podcasts and other multimedia resources, and interaction with other scientists. Registration is free.

Highlights, resources from ACS Chocolate Workshop now online

The American Chemical Societys workshop, Cooks with Chemistry The Elements of Chocolate provided reporters with a delectable assortment of new information on the worlds favorite treat. Held Oct. 11, 2007, at the Institute of Culinary Education in New York City and sponsored by the ACS Office of Communications, the chocolate workshop featured presentations from Harold McGee and Shirley Corriher, award-winning cookbook authors, and Sara Risch, the noted food and flavor chemist. The material includes ACS journal articles about the chemistry of chocolate; advice for cooks who run into trouble with chocolate recipes; tips on how to successfully use new chocolates in old favorite recipes; and a fascinating comparison of the health benefits and flavor components of different kinds of chocolate. For interviews with the chocolate workshop participants or other information, please contact

[Web link: ]

ACS Press Releases

General Chemistry Glossary

For Wired Readers

Bytesize Science, a podcast for young listeners

The American Chemical Society (ACS) Office of Communications has launched Bytesize Science, an educational, entertaining podcast for young listeners. Bytesize Science translates cutting-edge scientific discoveries from ACS' 36 peer-reviewed journals into stories for young listeners about science, health, medicine, energy, food, and other topics. New installments of Bytesize Science are posted every Monday and available without charge. Bytesize Science is now listed as a "new and notable" podcast on iTunes. It is also being recommended by "Podcasting in Education," an organization that encourages educators to embrace podcasts as a classroom tool. The archive includes items on environmental threats to killer whales, a scientific explanation for why some people love chocolate, some unlikely new uses for compact discs, and a hairy tale about "hairy roots." The podcaster for Bytesize Science is Adam Dylewski, an ACS science writer and recent graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison with degrees in genetics and science communication.

Science Elements: ACS Science News Podcast


Contact: Michael Woods
American Chemical Society

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