Skip to content. Skip to navigation
Personal tools
You are here: Home Alchemist The Alchemist Newsletter: December 14, 2010
Document Actions

The Alchemist Newsletter: December 14, 2010

by chemweb last modified 12-17-10 08:20 AM
The Alchemist - December 14, 2010
The Alchemist Newsletter Logo
Not a subscriber? Join now.

December 14, 2010


issue overview
pharma: Could starfish inspire new cure for inflammation?
analytical: Green chromatography
bio: Microbial arsenic fail
energy: Not a waste
organic: Pyrrole power
award: ACS President




This week, the Alchemist hears how starfish mucus could be the next lead in anti-inflammatory drug research, while chromatography uses macrocyclic starch molecules to go green. News of an arsenic-based bacteria is greatly exaggerated (allegedly) but energy-rich waste water may be the fuel of the future. In organic supramolecular ionic chemistry, the pyrrole unit helps a Japanese team synthesis nanostructured fibrous and soft materials. Finally, the 2012 ACS president is announced.

arrowback to top



Starfish and asthma

A slimy secretion with which spiny starfish coat themselves could be the next big thing in anti-inflammatory medicine for treating conditions, such as asthma, allergic rhinitis and arthritis. Marthasterias glacialis uses a complex mixture of glycoproteins in its "mucin" as an antifouling agent to prevent other sea creatures from making a home on the surface of the starfish, much as a boat's hull is coated to prevent barnacles from sticking. According to Clive Page of King's College London, laboratory tests show that starfish mucins inhibit the adhesion of human neutrophils to cultured human vascular endothelial cells but have no anticoagulant activity. Such characteristics might be a useful lead in the search for anti-inflammatory compounds.

arrowCould starfish inspire new cure for inflammation?

arrowback to top



Green chromatography

High performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) is a common enough tool in the analytical and chemical laboratories but usually needs acetonitrile solvent to operate optimally. Displacing non-renewable toxic organic solvents with water or "renewable" ethanol would make liquid chromatography a much more environmentally benign process. Now, researchers in Spain have turned to cyclodextrins, essentially biodegradable rings of starch produced by certain bacteria, as a carrier for the mobile phase. The team found that they could greatly increase the total volume of water rather than acetonitrile they could use in HPLC. Given the high price of acetonitrile, cyclodextrin-based HPLC will not only be greener, but cheaper too.

arrowEco-friendly chromatography

arrowback to top


Microbial arsenic fail

Recently, NASA heralded the discovery of a bacteria in a toxic lake in California that uses arsenic instead of phosphorus in its DNA as a major breakthrough in finding clues for life on other planets. But, the science does not seem to stack up and in what might be termed the modern, open, social media successor of anonymous peer review, the evidence has been picked apart by countless experts and laid bare for others to see. The research published in Science follows up earlier research that revealed a bacteria that could metabolize arsenic, but takes the implications one step further and apparently shows that a bacteria can switch out P for As. The team is standing by its results in the face of ongoing criticism. There is, however, a strong possibility that there was sample contamination and given that the research did not have access to NMR spectroscopy to prove the presence of arsenic biomolecules, the self-appointed jury is unlikely to be persuaded in their favor.

arrowArsenic Bacteria Breed Backlash

arrowback to top



Not a waste

Researchers at the Newcastle University in England have calculated that just four liters of domestic waste water contains enough energy to illuminate a 100 Watt light bulb for five minutes. Given that the US treats up to 50 trillion liters of wastewater each year using about 1.5% of the nation's total electricity production, that's a lot of potential energy wasted. Liz Heidrich and co-workers painstakingly freeze dried water to leave behind a residue of organic volatiles account for up to 10 kilojoules per liter. This energy could be trapped by conversion to methane or hydrogen gas. Of course, finding an effective and highly energy-efficient method of tapping this resource is now needed, but at 10 kJ/l the incentive is there.

arrowThe Untapped Energy In Wastewater

arrowback to top



Pyrrole power

Japanese researcher Hiromitsu Maeda of Risumeikan University and his colleagues have turned to the well-known molecular motif of the pyrrole to construction a new class of structured materials. By combining planar pyrrole-containing negatively charged complexes with similarly planar, positively charged organic ions they can generate fibers and soft materials, such as supramolecular gels and liquid crystals based on organic salts. The team can design specific nanostructures by tweaking the side-groups on the organic ionic components of these systems.

arrowAlternating stacks of planar cations and dipyrrole-containing anions provides concept for new materials

arrowback to top



ACS President

As of January 1, 2011, Bassam Shakhashiri of the University of Wisconsin-Madison will be president elect of the American Chemical Society. His term of office will then begin January 1, 2012. On accepting his new role, Shakhashiri said, "It is through chemistry research and education that we can make major contributions to improve the quality of life in America and to advance the human condition around the globe." During his term as ACS President he hopes to assure support for research and education, promote green chemistry and public understanding of climate change, and to address employment issues and foster international cooperation in research and education.

arrowUniversity of Wisconsin chemistry professor named president-elect of world's largest scientific society

arrowback to top



New 2011-13 Alfa Aesar Catalog

Alfa Aesar has published the 2011-13 Catalog of Research Chemicals, Metals & Materials, including over 4000 new products:

Boronic acids
Fluoroaromatic compounds
Rare earth sputtering targets

Many products in this catalog are unique and only available from Alfa Aesar.

Request your free copy!

Comprehensive Chemometrics offers depth and rigor to the new practitioner entering the field, and breadth and varied perspectives on current literature to more experienced practitioners aiming to expand their horizons. Software and datasets, both of which are especially valuable to those learning the methods, are integrated throughout the chapters.

More information

Free Newsletters's Newsletter Center invites you to subscribe to newsletters of your interest - free of charge.

Click here for details

Previous Issues

Nov 12, 2010
Oct 27, 2010
Oct 13, 2010
Sep 30, 2010
Sep 15, 2010
Aug 25, 2010
Aug 11, 2010
Jul 28, 2010
Jul 14, 2010
Jun 23, 2010
Jun 8, 2010
May 26, 2010
May 17, 2010
Apr 28, 2010
Apr 16, 2010
Mar 23, 2010
Mar 9, 2010
Feb 24, 2010
Feb 9, 2010
Jan 26, 2010
Jan 12, 2010
Dec 23, 2009
Dec 13, 2009
Nov 24, 2009
Nov 11, 2009
Oct 28, 2009
Oct 14, 2009
Sep 21, 2009
Sep 9, 2009
Aug 26, 2009
Aug 11, 2009
Jul 29, 2009
Jul 14, 2009
Jun 24, 2009
Jun 10, 2009
May 27, 2009
May 12, 2009
Apr 28, 2009
Apr 15, 2009
Mar 25, 2009
Mar 10, 2009
Feb 24, 2009
Feb 11, 2009
Jan 27, 2009
Jan 13, 2009
Dec 24, 2008
Dec 10, 2008
Nov 25, 2008
Nov 13, 2008
Oct 28, 2008
Oct 14, 2008
Sep 25, 2008
Sep 10, 2008
Aug 26, 2008
Aug 12, 2008
Jul 23, 2008
Jul 09, 2008
Jun 24, 2008
Jun 11, 2008
May 28, 2008
May 14, 2008
Apr 24, 2008
Apr 9, 2008
Mar 25, 2008
Mar 12, 2008
Feb 27, 2008
Feb 13, 2008
Jan 22, 2008
Jan 08, 2008
Dec 12, 2007
Nov 27, 2007
Nov 14, 2007
Oct 24, 2007
Oct 10, 2007
Sep 26, 2007
Sep 11, 2007
Aug 30, 2007
Aug 15, 2007
Jul 25, 2007
Jul 11, 2007
Jun 27, 2007
Jun 13, 2007
May 24, 2007
May 8, 2007
Apr 23, 2007
Apr 10, 2007
Mar 27, 2007
Mar 13, 2007
Feb 27, 2007
Feb 13, 2007
Jan 23, 2007
Jan 9, 2007
Dec 12, 2006
Nov 28, 2006
Nov 14, 2006
Oct 24, 2006
Oct 10, 2006
Sep 26, 2006
Sep 12, 2006
Aug 22, 2006
Aug 9, 2006
Jul 25, 2006
Jul 11, 2006
Jun 27, 2006
Jun 13, 2006
May 23, 2006
May 9, 2006
Apr 25, 2006
Apr 11, 2006
Mar 14, 2006
Feb 28, 2006
Feb 14, 2006
Jan 24, 2006
Jan 10, 2006
Dec 20, 2005
Dec 6, 2005
Nov 15, 2005
Nov 1, 2005
Oct 18, 2005
Oct 4, 2005
Sep 20, 2005
Sep 6, 2005
Aug 18, 2005
Aug 2, 2005
July 19, 2005
July 08, 2005
June 21, 2005
June 7, 2005
May 17, 2005
May 3, 2005
Apr 18, 2005
Apr 8, 2005
Mar 22, 2005
Mar 8, 2005
Feb 22, 2005
Feb 8, 2005
Jan 25, 2005


The Alchemist is published under the copyright of Inc. ©2010. For additional information including contact information and sponsorship opportunities, please contact Rick Whiteman <> or visit our web sites at and

For assistance with your account or general support, please visit

Web Search

Powered by Plone CMS, the Open Source Content Management System

This site conforms to the following standards: