January 2011



31 January 2011: Have something to say about an article you’ve read on Chemistry World this week? Leave your comments below… (more…)

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So it’s now halfway through day two of the International Year of Chemistry launch in Paris. I left you yesterday as the main body of the programme began – Global Trends and perspectives: Chemistry and Sustainable Development. How has it been going?

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Arena cuts 66 jobs


US company Arena Pharmaceuticals has said it will cut its workforce by about 25 per cent, equivalent to 66 employees, by the end of March. The move will cost the company $3.8 million (£2.4 million) in one-time costs, but it could save $13.5 million per year in the long term. The Arena obesity candidate, Lorqess (locaserin), was refused entry to the US market in October 2010. Arena Pharmaceuticals sold commercialisation rights to Lorqess to Japanese pharma company Eisai for $1.37 billion upfront plus other terms in July 2010. Arena expects to resubmit its application to the Food and Drug Administration by the end of 2011. (more…)

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I’ve joined over 1000 other delegates at the UNESCO headquarters in Paris for the launch ceremony of the International Year of Chemistry (IYC). Unesco and the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (Iupac) are partners for IYC2011 and this two day event brings together students, researchers and representatives of industry along with other interested parties for a celebration of chemistry.

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In the future drug addicts that want to get clean could be given a vaccine that limits their high and therefore reduces the need to take the drug, according to a paper published in Molecular Therapy (DOI:10.1038/mt.2010.280).

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Novartis buys Genoptix for $470 million…

Swiss pharma company Novartis has agreed to buy US diagnostic services company Genoptix for $470 million (£300 million), equivalent to $25 per share, in cash. According to Novartis, the offer represents a premium of 39 per cent over the Genoptix ‘unaffected’ share price on 13 December 2010. Genoptix specialises in diagnosing cancer in bone marrow, blood and lymph nodes. It employs 500 staff and in 2009 made sales of $184 million. The Genoptix board has unanimously approved the transaction and will recommend stockholders tender their shares. (more…)

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Ethanol is more than just an intoxicating drink. Find out more with Bristol University’s Tim Harrison in this week’s Chemistry in its element podcast

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Woodward with his ubiquitous cigarette


In any field, there are people with such prolific skill and clarity of thought that their work sometimes resembles more a piece of art than science. To understand how the pieces of a puzzle can be fitted together in unexpected ways takes a particular kind of thought.

In synthetic organic chemistry, one such mind belonged to Robert Burns Woodward. Synthesis is even now regarded as something of an arcane science, with an element of art to it. This mostly stems from the fact that – for all our knowledge – you can never be completely sure that any new reaction will work the way you expect it to until you actually mix the stuff up in the lab and try it. (more…)

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Two double-crested cormorants and a fish (Mila Zinkova)

Fish-eating sea birds, like cormorants, are exposed to mercury through their diet, but female cormorants turn out to be better than males at dealing with the potentially toxic contaminant.

Although mercury is a natural trace element, methylated mercury is released industrially, for example by coal-fired power stations. It is toxic and biomagnifies through food webs,  putting animals that are further up the food chain – like the double-crested cormorant – at greater risk. The toxic effects of methylmercury in sea birds reportedly include reduced reproduction and suppressed immune function.

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24 January 2011: Have something to say about an article you’ve read on Chemistry World this week? Leave your comments below… (more…)

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