The American Chemical Society's Fall 2009 National Meeting and Exposition was held from Aug. 16 to 20 in Washington, D.C., attracted more than 14,000 members from around the world, and presented more than 8,600 papers. The theme of this year's meeting was "Chemistry and Global Security: Challenges and Opportunities."
"This is the largest national meeting we've had in Washington, D.C.," said Glenn Ruskin, the American Chemical Society's Director of Public Affairs. "Attendance greatly exceeded our wildest expectations, and showed that even in tough times there are people who value the benefit they get out of attending a scientific conference."
The meeting featured 15 press briefings highlighting the most notable scientific breakthroughs, about half of which were health-related, Ruskin said.
Highlights included a report by Robert E. Sievers, Ph.D. of the University of Colorado in Boulder, leader of a team that developed the first dry powder inhalable measles vaccine. In 2010, clinical trials will assess the safety and efficacy of the vaccine in India, where measles accounts for nearly 200,000 annual fatalities.
"Childhood vaccines that can be inhaled and delivered directly to mucosal surfaces have the potential to offer significant advantages over injection," Sievers said in a statement. "Not only might they reduce the risk of infection from HIV, hepatitis, and other serious diseases due to unsterilized needles, they may prove more effective against disease."
Other highlights included a report by Milen I. Georgiev, Ph.D., of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences in Plovdiv, who described efforts to synthesize active ingredients in Devil's claw, a medicinal herb that has been brought to the brink of extinction by drought in its native habitat, Africa's Kalahari Desert. Long used as a remedy for fever, diarrhea, and blood diseases, Devil's claw contains components that may yield effective treatments for many other conditions such as arthritis and tendonitis.
Charles J. Arntzen, M.D., of Arizona State University in Tempe, delivered a report on a new vaccine for norovirus -- sometimes known as the "cruise ship virus" -- a highly contagious pathogen that causes diarrhea and vomiting. The vaccine was produced in tobacco plants using an engineered plant virus. Such plant biotechnology could be used to cheaply and efficiently develop vaccines against other viruses, including those that cause swine flu and bird flu, according to Arntzen.
Joe A. Vinson, Ph.D., of the University of Scranton in Pennsylvania, reported a new study showing that whole-grain cereals and popcorn contain large amounts of polyphenols, antioxidant substances more commonly associated with fruits, vegetables, chocolate, wine, tea and coffee.
"Early researchers thought the fiber was the active ingredient for these benefits in whole grains, the reason why they may reduce the risk of cancer and coronary heart disease," Vinson, the study's lead researcher, said in a statement. "But recently, polyphenols emerged as potentially more important. Breakfast cereals, pasta, crackers, and salty snacks constitute over 66 percent of whole grain intake in the U.S. diet."
One potentially practice-changing development -- a painless patch lined with "microneedles" only a few hundred microns long -- was presented as a possible alternative to hypodermic needles for the delivery of vaccines, insulin, and other medicines.
"Although it would probably first be used in a clinical setting, our vision is to have a self-administered flu vaccine patch," Mark Prausnitz, Ph.D., of the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta, said in a statement. "So instead of making an appointment with your doctor to get your flu shot, you can stop by the pharmacy or even get a patch in the mail and self-apply. We think that could very much increase the vaccine coverage since it would be easier for people to be vaccinated."
This year's "Heroes of Chemistry" awards went to Sumita B. Mitra, Ph.D., of 3M ESPE Dental Products Division in St. Paul, Minn., developer of a white composite resin that has restored millions of damaged teeth to their natural color; William E. Mickols, Ph.D., of Dow Water & Process Solutions, a subsidiary of the Dow Chemical Company in Midland, Mich., and the late John Cadotte, co-inventors of energy-efficient reverse-osmosis filters that remove salt from seawater; and the Novartis team that discovered the antihypertension drug aliskiren.
ACS: Silver-Delivery System Promotes Wound Healing
FRIDAY, Aug. 21 (HealthDay News) -- A new approach to wound healing -- nanoscopically-thin polymer films with silver nanoparticles -- may deliver the precise amount of silver needed to kill bacteria while avoiding the tissue damage associated with conventional silver-delivery systems, according to research presented this week at the American Chemical Society's National Meeting and Exposition, held from Aug. 16 to 20 in Washington, D.C.
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