May 2011



30 May 2011: Have something to say about an article you’ve read on Chemistry World this week? Leave your comments below…

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PHARMACEUTICAL: Solid results for cardiovascular ‘polypill’

Trial results relating to the hotly anticipated cardiovascular ‘polypill’ are out – and it looks like the drug formulation is good, but perhaps not as good as some had hoped.

The polypill is a combination of four drugs – aspirin, lisinopril, hydrochlorothiazide and simvastatin – designed to combat cardiovascular conditions. It halved the risk of heart disease and stroke in patients with a high probability of developing cardiovascular disease. But about one in six patients experienced at least one side effect, with one in 20 patients stopping treatment as an end result. (more…)

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The US Chemical Abstracts Service (CAS) has just announced that it has passed a new milestone as its 60 millionth substance has been registered. And it’s perhaps unsurprising that this new compound was produced by chemists in China.

The chemical in question was one of a number of derivatives of 2-amino-1,3,4-thiadiazine that were registered as potential therapeutic agents with China’s patent office, SIPO. The 60 millionth substance was produced by chemists at the Institute of Materia Medica, Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences, and it is hoped that it will be an effective anti-viral.

The rate of scientific discovery in China in recent years has exploded, as a recent analysis of the world share of top quality papers coming out of the country shows. The Nature Publishing Index 2010 China shows that the number of publications by Chinese authors in Nature journals and other top quality journals, such as Science, the Lancet and Cell, has risen rapidly over the past 10 years. In 2000, Nature research journals published only six papers from China, but in 2010 it published 149. While the number of Nature journals has roughly doubled from eight to 17, the number of Chinese papers accepted across these has increased 25-fold.

The speed with which CAS reached the 60 million mark – coming less than 2 years after hitting 50 million – is an indicator of just how rapidly Chinese chemists are making their presence felt on the world stage. In 2009, CAS reported that SIPO surpassed every other IP office in the world to become the number one producer of chemical patents. And the situation remains the same today. One thing is certain, chemists around the world will need to rapidly adjust to China’s new found chemical superpower status and find ways to turn this immense productivity to their mutual benefit.

Patrick Walter

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In this week’s Chemistry in its element podcast, Brian Clegg gets artistically and chemically inspired by the shiny blue crystals of copper sulfate.

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ENERGY: Shale gas gets UK go ahead

Only the crumbliest, flakiest...

A committee of politicians in the UK has given a green light to shale gas drilling in a report on potential impacts on water supplies, energy security and greenhouse gas emissions.

Shale gas is methane locked up in underground formations of shale, a flaky, brittle kind of sedimentary rock. The gas can be extracted by hydraulic fracturing, known colloquially as fracking, which has been criticised by environmental groups, which say it can lead to contamination of water supplies and leakage of gases into the atmosphere.

The committee concluded that a moratorium in the UK was not justified or necessary at present. ‘There has been a lot of hot air recently about the dangers of shale gas drilling,’ said committee chair Tim Yeo. ‘But our inquiry found no evidence to support the main concern – that UK water supplies would be put at risk.’ (more…)

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History seems to be repeating itself, as it so often does.

In April of last year, a volcano in Iceland called Eyjafjallajökull spewed tonnes of ash into the atmosphere and brought to a standstill a big chunk of the international aviation industry.

And now, a year later, another volcano in Iceland, Grimsvotn, is rumbling away.

Early reporting has suggested that this time the ash cloud will be smaller and the effect on air travel much more limited. But many UK flights have been cancelled already.

We’ll be tracking the event for chemistry related news stories, so keep checking the website for more.

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The chemistry community can get quite upset when manufacturers say they’re making products without chemicals.

How do you define a chemical? Isn’t everything a chemical, in some sense?


Chemicals: surplus to requirements (apparently)

We’re all familiar with the debate, which can get heated (at least in certain forums) and arguably has little impact on public persception. So perhaps instead we should focus on practical ways to resolve the tension. Perhaps we’ve been overlooking something really (really) obvious…

Something like this. Chemistry’s cool. Keep doing that. Just leave out the chemicals, guys. That’s the message from Good Clean Love, a US company marketing natural, organic, vegan sex products, such as personal lubricants and body candy. Its corporate tagline is Chemistry without Chemicals (and its website features a ‘periodic table of “love” elements’).

So very simple. Why didn’t we think of that?

Andrew Turley

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23 May 2011: Have something to say about an article you’ve read on Chemistry World this week? Leave your comments below…

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ANALYTICAL: Thermo buys Phadia for €2.5 billion

It’s buy, buy, buy at Thermo Fisher, it seems. The laboratory equipment giant has agreed to buy Phadia – which specialises in allergy and autoimmunity diagnostic products – for €2.5 billion (£2.2 million) in cash. The move follows the successful completion of Thermo’s $2.1 billion (£1.3 billion) acquisition of Dionex and a recent deal for UK company Sterilin, which makes single use plastic products for microbiological, life sciences and clinical applications. (more…)

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What links the burn of chilli peppers with Olympic show jumping? Hayley Birch finds out in this week’s Chemistry in its element podcast

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