March 2010



The debate over whether the presence of bisphenol A (BPA) [see right] in carbonate plastic bottles is harmful or not has been simmering away for at least two years. So it was with some surprise to see that today’s front cover of The Independent ran with a scaremongering headline of ‘Scandal of danger chemical in baby bottles’.

Even more surprising was that the Independent life insert ran with the title ‘Bad chemistry – the poison in the plastic that surrounds us’. (more…)

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md

In this week’s Chemistry in its element podcast we pay tribute to the creator of the periodic table: the ultimate multi-tasker Dmitri Mendeleev

 

 

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96260156

29 March 2010: Have something to say about an article you’ve read on Chemistry World this week? Leave your comments below…

(more…)

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With the US coming to terms with the biggest changes to its healthcare system in 60 years, a measure hidden deep within the 2400-page law has come to light – that of comparative effectiveness. The measure will create an institute funded by around $500 million (£335 million) a year to spur studies into which drugs and devices are the most effective.

But even as many drug companies may be worrying that cheaper alternatives to their latest drugs may be more effective than their newer, more expensive drugs, Biogen Idec and Elan have decided to confront the issue head on. The companies are so confident that their multiple sclerosis drug Tysabri (natalizumab) is the best on the market that they have started enrolling patients in a large head-to-head study to find out which it the best treatment for relapsing remitting multiple sclerosis.

The company will pit Tysabri against Teva’s Copaxone (glatiramer acetate) and Pfizer / EMD Serono’s Rebif (interferon beta-1a) in a study that is expected to enroll 1800 patients in 27 countries.

‘Tysabri is a compelling treatment option that is bringing hope to many MS patients,’ said Alfred Sandrock, senior vice president of neurology R&D at Biogen Idec. ‘By evaluating Tysabri against other MS treatments, our goal is to provide the data needed to make better treatment decisions and improve patients’ lives.’ (more…)

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analytica3

Day 2 was considerably busier than day 1 at Analytica 2010. Although final figures will not be released until tomorrow, members of the organisation confirmed during a press breakfast that these looked promising, with day 1 attracting more visitors than the same day in 2008 (Analytica is a biannual event).

In terms of product launches, however, the day was quite quiet, with a number of companies presenting ‘first time shown in Europe’ type releases. At Millipore’s booth, for example, I was shown the automated handheld cell counter and some attractive looking water purification kits. At Thermo Fisher Scientific’s I was treated to a whole tour where they showed me the company’s newest products and had demonstrations of their handheld XRF alloy analysers – if you have recently purchased expensive jewellery you may want to go to their booth and check it is really worth every buck – and Raman spectrometers (I can’t help but wonder how long it will be until these are ubiquitous in airports around the globe to check the contents of passengers’ bottles). And to round up the day I also attended a seminar on the Syro Wave, a microwave and parallel peptide synthesiser that Biotage launched in mid-February and I had not yet had the opportunity to see for myself.

Day 3 was quite short as I only had the morning at the show, which allowed just enough time for a visit to PerkinElmer’s booth, where I was taken for a private preview – ‘for selected people only’… it is the first time in my life I’ve been called that! – of a new MS system based on the Flexar LC platform that shows much promise and will formally be unveiled on 23 May at ASMS (we’ll keep you posted on this).

And then it was time to come back home. The show is not over until tomorrow but that is it for me until 2012.

Bibiana Campos Seijo

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It seems to me that chemistry gets more like cooking every day – although it’s a brave researcher who licks the spoon…

rolling-nanowires

But while the parallels between synthetic chemistry and, for example, whipping up a perfect beurre blanc are reasonably obvious, a group of Israeli chemists have shown that making nanoelectronics is much more suited to a budding chef pâtissier – you need to be handy with a rolling pin.

Fernando Patolsky and a cross-departmental group from Tel-Aviv University has made arrays of nanowire electronic devices using the ultimate combination of high-tech chemistry and bakery – first they grew a forest of upstanding silicon nanowires, then they used a specially designed ‘knocking down roller device’ (a rolling pin to me and you, but on a slightly smaller scale) to flatten the wires and make contact between sets of electrodes. (more…)

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cm1

This week’s Chemistry in its element podcast:
Science writer Richard Corfield on curium, an element that was rather unusually first announced on an American children’s TV show

  

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On day 1 at Analytica 2010 everything appeared to be running very smoothly, as one has come to expect from an efficiently managed, well-established event now on their 22nd edition.

(more…)

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96260156

22 March 2010: Have something to say about an article you’ve read on Chemistry World this week? Leave your comments below…

(more…)

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This week has seen an outpouring of tributes for Ashok Kumar MP, who was the only chemical engineer serving in the current UK parliament before his untimely death.

ashok-kumar

David Brown, chief executive of the Institution of Chemical Engineers (IChemE), has paid tribute to the late Dr Kumar, saying ‘We are shocked to hear of his sudden death. Dr Kumar was an accomplished chemical engineer and a stalwart supporter of the profession and of the process industries. He will be sorely missed.’

Prior to his career in politics, Kumar spent 14 years working as a research scientist for British Steel in Grangetown, UK where he gained a strong conviction of the importance of industrial R&D to the UK economy.

Steve Elliott, vice chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group for the Chemical Industry, said ‘the tragic and untimely death of Ashok Kumar robs the Country of one of our most effective Parliamentarians. He spoke out for his constituents and understood what business and industry meant to his people. We will all miss him.’ (more…)

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