tl; dr November
Hi Folks! Below is some interesting news to chew from November.
No more frozen pizza for a while EPA’s biofuels proposal: both sides are unhappy Yet another act on climate change Minor health effect of petroleum to biofuel Photo-triggered cancer therapy Watch a life-changing story Forget about basic chemistry One step closer to unite
#1 A move from FDA on something that we’ve known for a while. Earlier this month FDA announced that partially hydrogenated oils (PHOs), which are the primary source of artificial trans fatty acids are no longer considered safe food additives.1 Although the agency has strong scientific evidence showing the high risk of heart disease associated with the consumption of such oils the announcement does not mean the end of using trans fats. Not yet. It rather means that the agency is seeking for further scientific data, related information to finalize the act on the elimination as well as plausible alternative solutions to help producers in shifting processes.
#2 The Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposed to cut back the biofuel production for 2014 below this year’s target.2 Although some says (mainly the biofuel supporters) this action will hamper the renewable energy investments and even scientific research EPA’s argument was the declining gasoline consumption and the slow commercialization of advanced biofuels (cellulose). The proposed target for 2014 is 15.21 billion gal, which is still much more ethanol than the American Petroleum Industry (API) would like to see. So, none of the two sides are seemed to be happy with the decision. Just one side note on the topic. While nearly all gasoline contains 10% ethanol in the U.S. (some has it up to 15%), in the EU, only 5% ethanol can be added. Higher blending ratio is under discussion for stations in a small number of countries (e.g. Finland, France, and Germany).
#3 On November 1. U.S. President Barack Obama issued an executive order “Preparing the United States for the Impacts of Climate Change” and set up a new task force to deal with preparation and protection against related disasters.3 The current issue is part of a more grandiose Action Plan that has many organizations involved, including the above mentioned EPA. What I find strange is that on the one hand EPA is proposing to cut back CO2 emission from coal based power plants, but on the other they decrease the advanced bio fuel target that could lead to lowering the green-house gas emission.
#4 Somewhat related to the previous notes. Canadian scientists investigated the effect of increased biodiesel usage on the human health and determined only minor change in air quality and health benefits.4 Although in the study only heavy transportation was taken into account, and clearly there were limitations in their models the outcome is still quite surprising, to say the least. So, should we or should we not support the change from petroleum to biofuel? Even though this study says the change will hold minimal direct health benefits, we should not forget about why we’re doing this in the first place. We should not just sit back and say if there is minimal effect then why changing anything at all. Remember, the driving force is to limit green-house gas emission causing climate change, and indirectly effecting human health!
#5 American scientists discovered a new way to make nanoparticle-based chemotherapy more efficient.5 As known the biggest obstacles of the area is how to improve the drug penetration and accumulation in tumor cells. Nanomedicines are often found stuck in the compressed blood vessel resulting in limited effect in treating cancer. The current study, which was also founded by the pharma giant Sanofi, shows that illuminating the drug carrying polymer with UV leads to contraction in its size, its better distribution within the extracellular matrix as well as triggers a more controlled release of its drug content. The only unsolved issue is the weak penetration of the UV light in the body. I’m sure we’ll be hearing many more follow up research in the topic.
#6 FDA ordered 23andMe, a company in which Google invested $3.9 million in 2007, to stop marketing its top selling personalized DNA kit, which was named the “Invention of the Year by Time magazine in 2008.6 According to FDA the Mountain View-based company has no strong scientific proof that its genetic test would be either safe or effective as a medical care. This is a general problem with genetic tests and their providers that worries doctors a lot.
#7 A scientist from UCSB made a breakthrough discovery, and identified the possibilities to form two previously unpredicted compounds from Cesium and Fluorine under extreme high pressures of 30GPa.7 His first principles calculations show that under specific conditions not the valence electrons are making the bonds, but the electrons deep inside the inner shells. His results determined that the enthalpies of formation towards CF3 and CF5 are lower than that of the “normal” CF compound above a certain pressure threshold. Over to synthetic chemists!
#8 Great news to scientists! ACS will launch its first free-to-read peer-reviewed journal next year.8 In addition to launching ACS Central Science the scientific publisher is planning to make selected research papers freely available to everyone each day. Thank you, ACS! This is a highly anticipated as well as very much appreciated move that brings the whole scientific community one step closer to unite.