ACS News Service weekly press package -- June 5, 2006

Here is the latest American Chemical Society (ACS) News Service weekly press package with reports selected from 34 major peer-reviewed journals and Chemical & Engineering News.

Weekly PressPac -- FOR IMMEDIATE USE
June 5, 2006

There is no embargo on any of the items. They can be used immediately, although you will notice that some have advance publication dates. The PressPac includes links to download the full text of each article.

The ACS News Service PressPac is your access point for discoveries in fields ranging from astronomy to zoology, which are reported in the 34 peer-reviewed journals of the American Chemical Society. With more than 158,000 members, ACS is the world's largest scientific society. Chemistry is the science that transforms lives, and these news alerts are from the leading edge of that science at ACS headquarters.

Contact: Michael Woods
[email protected]

In This Edition:

  • A new strategy for early diagnosis of pancreatic cancer
  • Consumer's delight: A practical way to make round salt
  • Reduced risk of plutonium escaping from nuclear waste sites
  • Branching out to a new delivery system for nitric oxide
  • Unforeseen consequences of new White House risk assessment proposal
  • Journalists' Helper of the Week
  • Mark Your Calendars: Chemistry 2006 - San Francisco

The information in this press package is intended for your personal use in news gathering and reporting and should not be distributed to others. Anyone using advance ACS News Service weekly press package information for stocks or securities dealing may be guilty of insider trading under the federal Securities Exchange Act of 1934.

To download manuscripts and images, please click on the links provided with each item. Please cite the individual journal, or the American Chemical Society, as the source of this information.


Reverse strategy for early diagnosis of pancreatic cancer
Bioconjugate Chemistry

A new approach to an imaging method for the early visualization of pancreatic cancer shows promise for avoiding problems that have stymied scientists in the past, Harvard Medical School researchers are reporting.

Development of an imaging method for the early diagnosis of pancreatic cancer has been difficult, in part, because many of the receptors found in abundance on tumors are found on normal pancreatic cells and cannot be used to image pancreatic cancer.

Lee Josephson and colleagues have developed and tested an imaging technique based on the opposite strategy -- targeting magneto/fluorescent nanoparticles to a receptor found on normal pancreatic cells but missing on pancreatic tumors. Nanoparticles darken MR images of the normal pancreas, causing the tumor (which does not bind the particles) to appear brighter. Their research is scheduled for publication in the July 19 issue of Bioconjugate Chemistry.

Late diagnosis is a major reason why pancreatic cancer, the fourth leading cause of cancer death in the United States, is so difficult to treat. There are few specific early symptoms, and most of the 32,000 annual cases are diagnosed when the disease is advanced. The average survival time is barely 6 months.

"Imaging Pancreatic Cancer With a Peptide -- Nanoparticle Conjugate Targeted to Normal Pancreas."



Contact: Lee Josephson, Ph.D.
Harvard Medical School
Phone: 617-726-5788
Fax: 617-726-5708
Email: [email protected]


Consumer's delight: A practical way to make round salt
Crystal Growth & Design

In what may be a boon to consumers and industry, a group of chemists in India is reporting the first practical method for making round salt. Round salt may sound like a candidate for science's list of wacky and absurd inventions. However, its debut represents a dream come true for researchers who have strived for years to smooth the shape of common salt. Likewise for anyone who knows the frustration of coping with a saltshaker in humid summer weather.

Table salt normally exists in those familiar cube-shaped crystals. Pushpito K. Ghosh, P. Dastidar and colleagues describe a way of producing large quantities of salt in a nearly round, or spherical, form. Their research is scheduled for publication in the July 5 issue of Crystal Growth & Design.

Round salt's big advantage is the ability to flow freely, without caking. Humid summer weather often frustrates diners, as table salt cakes and sticks inside saltshakers. Round salt may ease that frustration.

A bigger market may be industries that store and use sodium chloride by the ton to make everything from bulk chemicals to dyes, fertilizers, paper and pharmaceuticals. For these companies, non-caking salt can be a boon that keeps the sodium chloride flowing freely onto the production line.

The research group, from the Central Salt & Marine Chemicals Research Institute in Bhavnagar, India, is developing the new free-flowing table salt in collaboration with a major food company in India.

"A Practical Approach to Produce Near-Spherical Common Salt Crystals With Better Flow Characteristics"



CONTACT: Pushpito K. Ghosh, Ph.D.
Central Salt & Marine Chemicals Research Institute
Bhavnagar-364002, India
Phone: 91-278-2569496
Mobile: 91-09426731115
Fax: 91-278-2567562
Email: [email protected]


Reduced risk of plutonium escaping from nuclear waste sites
Environmental Science & Technology

If plutonium escapes from underground repositories like the one proposed for Yucca Mountain in Nevada, there is substantially less risk that it would contaminate underground water supplies than previously thought, according to a study scheduled for the June 15 issue of Environmental Science & Technology.

Brian A. Powell, of the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California, and a group of colleagues have found that plutonium interacts with manganese minerals present in many soils. The interaction changes plutonium into a form that is less mobile than previously expected, and less likely to migrate into groundwater beneath a repository or disposal site.

Yucca Mountain has been in the news because future growth of commercial nuclear power depends on finding ways to deal with tons of highly radioactive spent fuel that must be regularly removed from reactors. However, there have been persistent concerns about possible leakage and contamination of groundwater used for drinking and irrigation.

"Overall, this research lends itself to a new conceptual model describing plutonium geochemistry that can be used to more accurately predict the risk associated with the disposal of plutonium-containing waste," the researchers said.

"Plutonium Oxidation and Subsequent Reduction by Mn(IV) Minerals in Yucca Mountain Tuff"



CONTACT: Brian A. Powell, Ph.D.
Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory
Phone: 925-422-0280
Fax: 925-422-3160
Email: [email protected]


Branching out to a new delivery system for nitric oxide
Journal of the American Chemical Society

Nitric oxide's unmasking as a medical marvel in the 1990s has engendered an ongoing search for a practical way of storing and releasing NO in a controlled fashion in the body. A suitable packaging system could enable scientists to apply NO's far-ranging effects more broadly in medicine. Those effects go way beyond the genitals (exploited in Viagra and other erectile dysfunction drugs), to regulate function of the immune system, brain, lungs, liver, kidneys, stomach, intestines and other organs.

Mark H. Schoenfisch and Nathan A. Stasko at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill have identified a promising NO delivery technology based on dendrimers. Dendrimers are big, tree-like molecules with tendrils that branch out from a central core. The unique architecture of dendrimers and dendritic polymers invites applications in new pharmaceuticals and diagnostic products.

Schoenfisch and Stasko report preparation of the first nitric oxide-releasing dendrimer in an article scheduled for publication June 14 in the Journal of the American Chemical Society. Compared to small molecule NO donor prodrugs being eyed for pharmaceutical use, dendrimer scaffolds offer distinct advantages for the storage and controlled delivery of NO. Their dendrimers, for instance, are capable of releasing large quantities of NO for extended periods and have the future ability to be multi-functionalized to target NO-release to cancer cells or other tissue specific sites elsewhere in the body.

"Dendrimers as a Scaffold for Nitric Oxide Release"



CONTACT: Mark H. Schoenfisch, Ph.D.
University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill
Phone: 919-843-8714
Fax: 919-962-2388
Email: [email protected]


Unforeseen consequences of sweeping new White House risk assessment proposal
Chemical & Engineering News

A well-intended White House plan to introduce a standardized risk assessment process for all federal agencies could have far-ranging negative consequences, according to an article scheduled for the June 5 issue of Chemical & Engineering News.

The plan, prepared by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), is intended to set minimum standards for the scientific quality of agency assessments of risks to human health, safety or the environment. It would apply to risk assessments involving everything from the approval of new drugs to flights of the space shuttle.

Written by Cheryl Hogue, the article describes concerns expressed at the first public meeting of a National Research Council committee convened to review the OMB plan. OMB's proposed guidelines could, for instance:

  • Deter the U.S. Food and Drug Administration from promptly warning the public about serious side effects of a drug.
  • Hamper the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration's ability to issue informational bulletins about potential workplace hazards.
  • Force NASA to ditch years of work spent in developing risk assessment procedures that are highly specific to space missions.
  • OMB likely will revise the risk assessment guidelines in light of these and other concerns, Hogue reports.

"Guidelines for Assessing Risk: White House Proposal Could Impede Broad Range of Government Activities"


CONTACT: Michael Bernstein
Phone: 202-872-4400
Fax: 202-872-4370
Email: [email protected]

Journalists' Helper of the Week

With biotechnology one of the hottest topics in science, don't miss a once-a-year opportunity for spot news, features and background galore. It is the third annual World Congress on Industrial Biotechnology and Bioprocessing July 11-14 at the Toronto Westin Harbour Castle Hotel. The conference will attract top experts from around the globe in industrial biotechnology, chemical and agricultural industries as well as government officials and academics to explore how biological processes can replace chemical processes in manufacturing, pharmaceuticals, biofuels and other energy production, pulp and paper, and add value to industries converting to biotech processes.

Hosts include the Biotechnology Industry Organization, American Chemical Society, National Agricultural Biotechnology Council, Agri-Food Innovation Forum, Chemical Institute of Canada, BIOTECanada and EuropaBIO. Advance media registration is now available online until June 30 at

Mark Your Calendars:

September 10-14, for one of the year's biggest and most influential scientific conferences -- the 232nd ACS national meeting in beautiful San Francisco.

The American Chemical Society -- the world's largest scientific society -- is a nonprofit organization chartered by the U.S. Congress and a global leader in providing access to chemistry-related research through its multiple databases, peer-reviewed journals and scientific conferences. Its main offices are in Washington, D.C., and Columbus, Ohio.


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