Raman and the usual substrates

My latest round up of science news over on SpectroscopyNOW.com is now online. This week, I discuss how a lot of protein research looks only at molecules at rest, but could be enriched so much more by observing how these biological molecules change step by step as they interact with each other and their usual substrates. Researchers at the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ESRF) and the Structural Biology Institute (IBS) have exploited the power of Raman spectroscopy to help them lock in on protein intermediates states that can then be snapped using X-rays from the synchrotron. The team can then piece together a stop-motion movie, in the style of Ray Harryhausen or Wallace and Gromit without the sword-wielding skeletons or sardonic dog.

Also in this week’s issue, dental researchers in London have demonstrated that the antibacterial solutions containing sodium hypochlorite (household bleach) and the calcium-sponge EDTA commonly used to clean up after root canal work, can actually destroy the organic content of the tooth’s dentine. I spoke to team leader, Kishor Gulabivala of the Eastman Dental Institute at University College London who pointed out that his team’s results have only so far been presented at a conference. Nevertheless, the research represents the first quantitative study of the effects of the antibacterial solutions on teeth, and suggest a need to reconsider their use in dental surgery.

Initially, I was concerned that it was their use in artificial teeth whitening that was the major issue, but Gulabivala assures me it is not. Despite this, I found several websites (amateur and otherwise) that suggest hypochlorite can be used as a bleaching agent for the teeth. Personally, I’d rather stick with yellow, stained teeth (if I happened to have them) rather than risking a mouthful of bleach.

A surgical robot that uses its own MRI scanner to pinpoint targets with microscopic precision also caught my eye for news on the SpectroscopyNOW MRI channel this week.