Biosynthetic artemisinin leads to cheaper malaria drugs

PHARMACEUTICALS

An international team, including researchers from the National Research Council (NRC), has published a new semi-synthetic method for producing the anti-malarial drug artemisinin. The system combines biotechnology and industrial chemistry to greatly reduce the cost of the drug and its associated therapies. Artemisinin is currently extracted from sweet wormwood (Artemisia annua) at high cost. “The plant produces only about one per cent dry weight...

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Molecular motions captured via electron diffraction

TECHNIQUES

A new technique developed at the University of Toronto has captured — with femtosecond accuracy and atomic resolution — real-time images of molecules undergoing structural transitions. (A femtosecond is one quadrillionth of a second.) The breakthrough makes it possible to probe the ultra-fast motions that are involved in overcoming activation energy barriers to drive chemical...

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Polymer glue could heal wounds

POLYMERS

A universal biomembrane adhesive developed at the University of British Columbia (UBC) could have applications in tissue engineering, drug delivery or wound care. Phophatidyl choline (PC) is found in the phospholipids that make up cell membranes in all higher plants and animals. Choline is positively charged, while phosphate is negatively charged. A few years ago,...

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Single-atom catalysts could improve fuel cell performance­

ENERGY

Researchers at Western University have deposited clusters of platinum as small as a single atom on sheets of graphene. The structures could improve catalysis in fuel cells and automotive catalytic converters. Direct methanol fuel cells (DMFCs) generate electricity by oxidizing methanol and could be used in portable power applications such as laptops and mobile phones....

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Iron-based catalysts could provide greener polymers

CATALYSIS

GreenCentre Canada has signed an agreement to commercialize a new class of iron-based catalysts developed by chemists from the Atlantic region. The molecules could lead to greener processes for everything from polymers to pharmaceuticals. Carbon-carbon cross-coupling — a crucial step in many pharmaceutical syntheses — is currently catalyzed almost exclusively with palladium-based compounds. Unfortunately, palladium’s...

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Gold & DNA simplify disease detection

HEALTH
BY:

A clever combination of functional DNA and gold nanoparticles has produced a point-of-care diagnostic system that could allow medical workers in developing countries to achieve faster and cheaper detection of many common diseases. ...

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Gold-forming molecule identified in bacterium

BIOCHEMISTRY
BY:

A Canadian team of researchers has identified a molecule used by a bacterium to convert soluble gold ions into insoluble elemental gold. Although soluble gold ions are inhibitory to most microorganisms, two species of bacteria are known to survive in their presence. The first, Cupriavidus metallidurans, has been studied for about a decade by researchers...

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‘Rusty’ catalysts advance renewable energy storage

ENERGY
BY:

University of Calgary researchers have developed a new family of amorphous catalysts based on iron oxide — rust — that turns water into hydrogen fuel. The innovation could improve systems for storing energy from intermittent, renewable sources like solar and wind. Currently, expensive materials like iridium or ruthenium oxide are used to overcome the activation...

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New extraction technique for functional foods

TECHNIQUES
BY:

A team of engineers at Université Laval has developed a new system for efficiently extracting high-value bioactive molecules — potential nutraceuticals or pharmaceuticals — from plant and animal proteins. In our gut, enzymes break up plant and animal proteins into hundreds of smaller peptides. Some of these reportedly have health benefits such as antioxidant or...

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