Highlights of chemical society meeting in Washington, D.C., Aug. 28-Sept. 1



WASHINGTON — An inexpensive wallet-sized personal radiation detector, a new form of oat fiber that targets obesity, and a polymer gel that helps deliver multiple drugs simultaneously or in pre-defined sequences are among the research topics to be discussed at the 230th national meeting of the American Chemical Society, the world’s largest scientific society, in Washington, D.C., Aug. 28-Sept. 1. The meeting features more than 7,400 research presentations. Other research topics include antioxidants for improving health, "green" chemistry for a safer environment, and new approaches to fight cancer.

There also will be a special Presidential Event, "University Chief Executives on the Future of Education," that features academic leaders in a collaborative effort to predict the state of chemistry education in 2015. Other key events include a commemoration of the 10th anniversary of the ACS Scholars Program for underrepresented minorities pursuing chemistry degrees, an award program that honors "Heroes of Chemistry" for outstanding research achievements and the presentation of the first Lifetime Achievement Award from the ACS Committee on Chemists with Disabilities.

Sunday, Aug. 28

What's in your wallet? A radiation dosimeter! — A credit-card sized radiation dosimeter could soon help thousands of Americans determine if they have been exposed to radiation from a dirty radioactive bomb. The Self-Indicating Instant Radiation Alert Dosimeter (SIRAD), developed by JP Laboratories of Middlesex, N.J., monitors radiation exposure immediately rather than in days, as needed by other methods. When exposed to radiation, the sensing strip on the card instantly develops a blue hue. The hue intensifies as the radiation dose increases. The cards, which cost about $10 each, could help ensure that emergency medical personnel provide proper treatment to those exposed. (MACR 1, Sunday, Aug. 28, 9:00 a.m., Grand Hyatt Washington, Burnham room, during the symposium, "Macromolecules for Safety and Security.")

Worm-like gel may enhance drug delivery — An earthworm propels itself by the coordinated stretching and elongation of its slender body. Inspired by this movement, researchers at Cornell University have designed a novel, shape-changing polymer that moves in a similar fashion. The moving gel, which can be stopped or started at any time, is capable of carrying tiny cargo and might one day be used as a miniature drug delivery device, the researchers say. (PMSE 2, Sunday, Aug. 28, 9:00 a.m., Grand Hyatt Washington, Independence Ballroom F-G, during the symposium, "Biologically Enabled and Bio-Inspired Polymers.")

Food tasting 21st century style — Kings and queens relied on food tasters to thwart would-be poisoners. A new quick and easy-to-use screening tool now offers the same protection to all — without the nasty scene of the taster keeling over. Developed by ChromaDex Analytics, the tool can detect harmful chemicals or biological agents in foods, beverages, water and dietary supplements. It uses thin-layer chromatography to separate complex mixtures into individual components. A bacterial biosensor identifies which of these compounds may be dangerous. (ANYL 3, Sunday, Aug. 28, 9:20 a.m., Washington Convention Center, Room 154A, during the symposium, "General Papers.")

ACS Scholars Program marks 10th anniversary — ACS will celebrate the 10th anniversary of its Scholars Program, one of the first financial support efforts to help underrepresented minorities pursue undergraduate degrees in the chemical sciences. Current and past awardees, corporate leaders and mentors will commemorate the success of the program, which has awarded a total of $8.2 million to students. [FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE] (Sunday, Aug. 28, 2:30 p.m.-5:00 p.m., JW Marriott, Salon I, during the Presidential Event, "The Future Face of Chemistry;" and Monday, Aug. 29, 10:00 a.m.-11:30 a.m., Renaissance Washington, Room 15, during the symposium, "Business Case for Diversity in the Chemical Enterprise." – BMGT 5-9)

Curcumin, resveratrol may help fight asthma — Many people with asthma, bronchitis and other lung diseases are insensitive to steroids that are commonly used to fight lung inflammation. Now, researchers at the University of Rochester Medical Center in New York have shown in cell studies that curcumin, a spice found in curry, and resveratrol, an antioxidant in red wine, can boost the effectiveness of these steroids. The compounds, now in animal testing, might one day be used as supplemental ingredients in inhaler devices that could help patients breathe a deeper and tastier sigh of relief, they say. (AGFD 27, Sunday, Aug. 28, 3:35 p.m., Washington Convention Center, Room 203A, during the symposium, "The Potential Health Benefits of Antioxidants.")

ACS honors "Heroes" for improving health, environment –– The Society has recognized several industrial chemists as 2005 "Heroes of Chemistry" for their work, including developing revolutionary treatments for psychosis, myeloid leukemia and dental disease; a process that yields cleaner gasoline; and materials to make smaller, denser computer chips and microprocessors. Eighteen research chemists from five companies will be honored at a special awards dinner and reception. The companies are Colgate-Palmolive Co., ExxonMobil, IBM Research, Johnson & Johnson Pharmaceutical Research and Development, and Novartis Institutes for Biomedical Research. [FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE] (Sunday, Aug. 28, 6:30 p.m., Willard InterContinental Washington.)

Monday, Aug. 29

New form of oat fiber targets obesity, diabetes, heart disease — USDA researchers have developed a new type of soluble oat fiber that has high levels of beta glucan (a cholesterol-fighter) and low calories. Called C-Trim, the fiber could help fight heart disease, obesity and diabetes when added to food products such as yogurt, smoothies and baked goods, they say. (AGFD 38, Monday, Aug. 29, 9:55 a.m., Washington Convention Center, Room 209A, during the symposium, "Bioactive Polysaccharides in Diet, Disease, and Coronary Heart Disease.")

"Plastic viruses" may aid drug delivery, disease treatment — Some viruses could actually be good for you! Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania have developed "plastic viruses," microscopic polymer capsules that resemble the shape of viruses — including a "head" and a separate filamentous tail — that are capable of transporting medicinal drugs through the bloodstream in order to reach target cells in the body. The harmless viral mimics also could aid scientists’ understanding of how viruses function in the body and inside cells, which may lead to new treatments to fight a variety of troublesome viral diseases, including the deadly Asian flu virus, the researchers say. The plastic viruses appear promising in early animal studies, they add. (PMSE 120, Monday, Aug. 29, 2:30 p.m., Grand Hyatt Washington, Independence Ballroom F-G, during the symposium, "Biologically Enabled and Bio-Inspired Polymers.")

Tuesday, Aug. 30

Anti-alcohol drug a possible treatment for melanoma —Antabuse (disulfiram), a drug used to deter alcohol abuse, is showing promise as a treatment for melanoma, according to Patrick Farmer of the University of California, Irvine. In the presence of copper ions, the drug is transformed into a metal complex, which is selectively deadly to melanoma, inducing programmed cell death (apoptosis). Farmer's laboratory has now developed several related metal compounds that have the same promising effect on this deadly cancer. (INOR 269, Tuesday, Aug. 30, 10:30 a.m., room 145A, during the symposium, "Inorganic Complexes as Potential Chemotherapy Agents.")

Novel polymer permits multiple drug delivery for implants, sutures — Researchers at MIT have developed a special polymer coating that slowly dissolves over time and can be used to deliver multiple drugs simultaneously or in pre-defined sequences. The coating shows particular promise for implantable devices such as sutures, screws and pins, where they can be used to prevent infection following surgery or promote healing, the researchers say. (PMSE 181, Tuesday, Aug. 30, 12:10 p.m., Grand Hyatt Washington, Franklin Square Room, during the symposium, "Assembly of Polymers and Nanoparticles – From 2-D to 3-D.")

Academic leaders predict the state of education in 2015 –– This Presidential Event, "University Chief Executives on the Future of Education," is related to the Society-wide effort of ACS President William F. Carroll, Jr., to paint a picture of how the chemistry enterprise landscape will change in the next decade. This session brings together some of the nation’s foremost educators, who will share their predictions for education in the year 2015. Speakers include Marye Anne Fox, University of California, San Diego; John D. Peterson, University of Tennessee; Mark S. Wrighton, Washington University; and Thomas R. Tritton, Haverford College. (PRES 25-28, Tuesday, Aug. 30, 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m., Washington Convention Center, 207 A)

Iminosugars show promise against leukemia — Iminosugars are a special class of sugar molecules that are attracting widespread attention for their potential disease-fighting abilities. Researchers at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York and Industrial Research Ltd. in New Zealand have designed synthetic iminosugars, called Immucillins, which are inhibitors of natural enzymes involved in promoting the growth of cancerous T-cells. When these enzymes (purine nucleosidases) are inhibited, cancerous T-cells can’t divide, but normal, healthy cells are not affected. Immucillin-H shows promise in Phase II clinical trials for fighting leukemia, according to the researchers. Another iminosugar, DADMe-Immunicillin-H, has entered early clinical studies for treatment against T-cell autoimmune diseases, including rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disorder, multiple sclerosis and psoriasis. (CARB 42, Tuesday, Aug. 30, 2:35 p.m., Washington Convention Center, Room 202A, during the symposium, "Iminosugars: Therapeutic Potential.")

ACS award for work with disabled chemists –– Thomas J. Kucera, Ph.D., a Skokie, Ill., chemist, will receive the first Lifetime Achievement Award from the ACS Committee on Chemists with Disabilities for his efforts locally and nationally. He will be honored for his "untiring work to raise awareness of issues related to the rights of those with disabilities and for his willingness to address those issues with energy and effort that have resulted in significant progress." The award will be presented at the Committee’s 25th anniversary reception at the Willard InterContinental Washington. This year also is the 15th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act. [FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE] (Tuesday, Aug. 30, 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m.)

Wednesday, Aug. 31

Sound waves help target cancer treatment — Researchers at the University of Utah have developed a new way to deliver anti-cancer drugs into a tumor utilizing tiny spheres and ultrasound technology. The system targets tumor cells without damaging normal tissue surrounding it. The drug is sheathed in hollow polymer shells called micelles. These tiny shells are too large to penetrate through the blood vessels of normal tissue, but small enough to enter the more permeable blood vessels of a tumor. After the drug accumulates in the tumor, the researchers use ultrasound (high-frequency sound waves) to trigger the drug release from the shells. The system potentially could be effective for both drug-sensitive and resistant tumors, researchers say. (COLL 373, Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2:30 p.m., Renaissance Washington, Room Renaissance West B, during the symposium, "Novel Colloidal Technologies for Targeted Drug Delivery.")

New imaging technique reveals much about brain chemistry — Vastly improved mass spectrometry imaging techniques are helping scientists pinpoint precisely where chemical compounds congregate within brain cells. Knowing where these compounds are located and what they do in the brain could help researchers develop new treatments for Alzheimer’s and other neurological disorders, according to Jonathan Sweedler of the University of Illinois, Urbana. Sweedler will discuss advances in this field, including his recent finding of previously undetected concentrations of vitamin E molecules in brain cells. (ANYL 433, Wednesday, Aug. 31, 3:45 p.m., Room 152B, during the symposium, "New Frontiers in Ultrasensitive Analysis: Nanobiotech, Single Molecule Detection, and Single Cell Analysis.")

Mushrooms found to contain potent antioxidant — Mushrooms do more than just add flavor and texture to pizza, salads and steaks; they also might help fight disease. A new study by researchers at Penn State University found that mushrooms are an excellent source of a powerful antioxidant called ergothioneine, which cell studies by other researchers have linked to anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory effects. The scientists analyzed levels of this antioxidant in seven different types of mushrooms, including white button (most commonly consumed), crimini, portabella, maitake, shiitake, oyster and king oyster. Although all of the varieties contained high levels of the antioxidant, the highest levels were found in shiitake, while the lowest levels were found in the white button mushroom. The potent antioxidant is abundant in both fresh and cooked mushrooms, the researchers add. (AGFD 162, Wednesday, Aug. 31, 4:05 p.m., Washington Convention Center, Room 209B, during the symposium, "Edible and Medicinal Mushrooms: Chemistry and Biological Effects.")

Thursday, Sept. 1

Cactus can remove arsenic from drinking water — Some communities in Mexico contain drinking water sources that have unusually high levels of arsenic, which has been tied to numerous health problems. Now, researchers at the University of South Florida may have uncovered an economical, natural way to remove the arsenic. They found that cactus produces a complex carbohydrate, cactus mucilage, that shows excellent abilities to absorb arsenic. The gum-like substance may some day be used in portable devices in rural and underdeveloped communities that have been exposed to polluted drinking water and where access to conventional filtration technology is limited, the researchers say. (PMSE 555, Thursday, Sept. 1, 11:20 a.m., Grand Hyatt Washington, Independence F, during the symposium, "Green Polymer Chemistry.")

Source: Eurekalert & others

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