Jun 17, 2009
The latest science news with an analytical bent from yours truly, now available in the SpectroscopyNOW ezines:
Cannabis blow back – A highly sensitive new chemical test has allowed European scientists to obtain “convincing evidence” that marijuana smoke damages DNA in ways that could increase the risk of cancer.
Toxic shock – Researchers in Spain are evaluating the “ecotoxic” properties of hazardous and toxic wastes for the aquatic environment. They suggest that the ecotoxic profile of a given waste stream can be derived from a novel battery of bioassays using statistical techniques that reveal whether dangerous levels of compounds toxic to frogs and fish are present and whether or not uber-toxins* like dioxins are at unsafe levels.
Chemical directors – Chemistry often all about activation. Now, UK chemists have found a way to control and direct the activation of important molecules used to synthesise pharmaceutical and agrochemical products. Their work also provides new insights into how bond activation works.
Enzymic activity – Researchers have obtained the first three-dimensional crystal structure of an enzyme that contains iron and helps soil microbes fend off invaders and rivals. The enzyme hydroxyethylphosphonate dioxygenase (HEPD) used by the Streptomyces soil microbe could lead to new agricultural technology, chemical catalysts, and perhaps even novel antibiotics that defeat bacterial resistance to conventional drugs.
*Yes, I know the word toxin applied only to compounds naturally derived and that attaching the uber mock prefix to this word is probably also misplaced as dioxins have a much worse reputation than they deserve, but I couldn’t help myself and they are very poisonous.