Interesting Science Stories from an Odd Year
Everyone seems to agree that this year feels very different, for many obvious reasons. Rather than enumerate those rather dispiriting headlines, we will focus on some other singular stories from the last few months, all related to science generally, chemistry, and even peptides.
Our strange science news tour begins with an eye-catching headline, Utilization of urea as an accessible superplasticizer on the moon for lunar geopolymer mixtures, which is essentially using the urea found in urine to make “moon bricks”. Since it would be vastly more economical than transferring water when the estimated shipping costs are around $10,000 per pound, utilizing a superplasticizer allows for less water and the ability to use a 3-D printer as well. All the details, should you want them, are found here.
Moving from space down to sediments, rocks, and coral reefs, the parchment worm or parchment tube worm (Chaetopterus, a marine polychaete worm) makes the list due to the discovery of what makes the slime from this worm glow blue for days. While the product spotlight covers a few enzyme substrates that generate light through fluorescence, this worm generates light through bioluminescence. The extended duration of this phenomenon is uncommon in other animals, bacteria or algae, especially since it glows outside the source body. Researchers from Scripps Institute of Oceanography shed light on the process, which they believe is powered by ongoing, complex chemical reactions. For more, please see the article here.
Continuing on theme of the color blue and mixing it with the aforementioned urea, there is an article entitled, “Stimulus-Mediated Ultrastable Radical Formation”. The applications for this compound are intriguing, for everything from self-dimming windows to solar cells and batteries. Find out the details via this link.
Going from weird chemical mixtures to creatures from out of the past, the discovery of dinosaur cancer that is explored in a recent study, is an intriguing one, with the multidisciplinary effort involved in the osteosarcoma diagnosis. The findings by researchers from McMaster University and the Royal Ontario Museum are explained here. Another prehistoric animal also receiving twenty-first century treatment is explored in a paper titled, Pre-extinction Demographic Stability and Genomic Signatures of Adaptation in the Woolly Rhinoceros. Researchers utilized one complete nuclear genome and 14 mitogenomes to investigate the demographic history of woolly rhinoceros leading up to its extinction. The results are another encouraging indicator of the potential of palaeogenomics to study the evolutionary history of extinct species, and the Stockholm University and the Swedish Museum of Natural History team’s findings can be accessed here.
Isocyanides, also known as isonitriles and carbylamines, are the epitome of smelly chemistry, with their stench making their use evened banned in some labs. Chemist Alexander Mikherdov and his colleagues at St Petersburg University in Russia created a solution by replacing the offending bond with a less malodorous halogen one. You can find their paper here.
The final entry is particularly good news and probably the most applicable to many peptide researchers: the connection of honeybee (Apis mellifera) venom as an anticancer agent, particularly for the aggressive subtypes HER2-enriched and triple-negative breast cancer. Researchers demonstrated that honeybee venom and its major component melittin, induce apoptosis by suppressing the activation of EGFR and HER2 by interfering with the phosphorylation of these receptors in the plasma membrane of breast carcinoma cells. The findings are presented here.
New England Peptide| Peptides International carries this item, melittin, in our expansive portfolio of peptide toxins. Should you want them, we can’t really help you locate the other items referenced in this post!