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Highlights in Chemical Science

News from across RSC Publishing.

Issue 8

Teaching an old drug new tricks

Disulfiram, used to treat alcoholics for over 50 years, may have a new role in combating cancer and fungal infections, according to Suresh Ambudkar and colleagues at the National Cancer Institute, Bethesda, US. The chemical disrupts the membrane proteins responsible for drug resistance of both cancer cells and pathogenic yeast and could be used to improve the effectiveness of existing treatments for complex diseases. A benefit of disulfiram is its clinically-proven track record, with limited toxicity and manageable side effects.

High reactivity for just a few P

Until recently the coordination of an intact white phosphorus (tetrahedral P4) molecule to metal fragments has rarely been reported and therefore little is known about the reactivity of the coordinated molecules. Piero Stoppioni and colleagues at the University of Florence, Italy, have now prepared a tetrahedral phosphorus-ruthenium complex which undergoes astonishing hydrolysis to give metal phosphines under very mild conditions. 

Absorbing fibers

A material similar to activated carbon fibers but with enhanced properties has been formed via a novel low cost route. ZnCl2-activated polyacrylonitrile, coated on fiberglass yields fibers with controlled pore sizes and a high surface area; the larger pore volume allows improved absorption compared to commercially available fibers. This material, developed by James Economy and colleagues from the University of Illinois, US, could have many applications raging from waste removal in water to protective clothing. 

Probing soft biosystems

Reactive diazirines (R1R2C-N=N) are being used in biological and materials applications including photoaffinity labelling, a widely applicable technique for functionalisation of macromolecular systems involving carbene insertion processes. Wayne Hayes at Reading University, UK, says, 'The use of diazirines in surface modification studies will lead to improved surface properties of materials and enable more sophisticated and intricate self-assembled monolayers and sensors to be constructed.' 

Essential Elements

First sitting PM at RSC event

The Prime Minister, Rt Hon Tony Blair MP, highlighted the role of science in tackling the challenges of tomorrow, when he addressed scientists and politicians, at the RSC's annual ...

Journals launched at Utrecht and Budapest

RSC Publishing formally marked the launch of two of its new journals at international conferences held last month

Making an impact

The latest impact factors, released by ISI, show an impressive average increase of over 10% for RSC Journals

Research Highlights

Switching off neurodegenerative disease

Proof that peptide secondary structures can be switched by metal ions has been provided by a model based on a well known protein motif

Molecular Borromean rings unlocked

Chemists in the US have provided verification of the structure of their acclaimed nanoscale Borromean rings, and suggest that they can now find practical applications for the rings...

Cooking up a supercool atmosphere

With the barbecue season in full swing, chemists in the US are cooling things down with a claim that grilled meat might give off supercooled droplets, speeding up reactions with at...

Amide foldamer bites back

A polyamide that folds back on itself, biting its tail, to make a compact three dimensional structure has been stumbled across by researchers in the UK

Crystalline hosts sandwich water sheets

A fluorine-containing copper complex (a clathrate hydrate) that sandwiches water sheets between its layers during crystallisation has been made

Molecular bowl

A bowl-shaped supramolecular structure has been designed and made by scientists in China and Japan

Arranging molecules in baskets to make rings

Basket-shaped molecules holding pre-organised molecules in place have helped German scientists to make huge ring compounds

Sunshine slows immune response to allergens

Spending only short lengths of time in the sun suppresses the immune system in humans, according to European researchers

Bringing back drug sensitivity

A series of compounds that might restore tumour cells' sensitivity to anti-cancer drugs has been developed by chemists in the UK and US

Steps forward in nano-synthesis

Conventional chemistry techniques have been employed to make an important range of bismuth-based materials for nanotechnology applications

Theoretical breakthrough

A single source has been pinpointed as the culprit for errors given by an important theoretical method

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