The Secrets Behind Mercury Toxicity

 With all the news about the danger of mercury emissions, I decided it was time to understand how mercury works in our bodies. Now I know how this element works in body and wahy our young are so vulnerable to it.

Mercury changes forms. It has different costumes. It ducks into phone booths as organic, and comes out as inorganic, and then darts into a dark cell to do its damage leaving someone else’s fingerprints. Mystery. It did take scientists a long time to determine how mercury changes faces so fast. Each form attacks a different aspect of the cell membrane, or your DNA or your enzymes.

Methyl mercury is oxidized into the “ionic” form of mercury. This is a very destructive form of mercury. (Its problem is that it cannot travel very far.) The compound is the most dangerous form due to its ability to travel great distances and enter all cells. It is absorbed by shellfish and fish, through their gills; it is dispersed by their blood through their bodies, and accumulates in their fatty tissue. The contaminated fish is eaten by other fish, and birds and mammals–including humans. The biggest source of mercury exposure in humans comes from eating fish and shellfish.

Once eaten, mercury goes directly into the highest lipid-containing organs in our bodies–including breasts and brains. Breast milk, which is packed with nutrients and high in lipid content, can contain mercury.

Absorption of mercury from the area under your tongue and the insides of your cheeks are the fastest absorption. These areas, of course, are in close proximity to the mercury fillings, so efficiency of absorption is great. From the blood stream, mercury can travel to any cell in the body, where it can either disable or destroy the tissues. Mercury can also travel directly from the fillings into the lungs, into the blood stream and, as before described, every cell in the body becomes a valid target.

All of this travel and destruction is what defines mercury toxicity. It may favor nerve tissue for a destruction target, but the kidney is high up on its list of tissues to destroy. After these two areas, it can wreak havoc in any tissue that might get in its way. For this reason, it is difficult to devise a change in the normal chemistry of the body, called a test, which would “prove” mercury (the CAS number is 7439-97-6)toxicity. It can alter almost anything in the body; therefore, mercury should not be allowed to enter for any reason.

Once in our bodies, mercury stays there for many months, and most people have some amount of mercury in their tissues at all times. Its exposure at high levels can harm the brain, heart, kidneys, lungs and immune system of people of all ages.

The Research & Development Of Osanetant

 

Developed by Sanofi-Aventis (formerly Sanofi-Synthelabo), Osanetant is a neurokinin 3 receptor antagonist which are useful for the treatment of disorders associated with dysfunction of the dopaminergic and noradrenergic systems.

 

First identified in the 1930s, neurokins are neurotransmitters found in the substantia nigra and striatum areas of the brain. Unlike most of the neurotransmitters identified to date, they are made from peptides rather than amino acids. They are and believed to be involved in the control of movement. Their potential as therapeutic targets for drug development has only recently been realised but is seen an area of rich research. Several antagonists to these neurokinins are now in development. With GSK’s talnetant, osanetant was one of two NK3 antagonists in development for schizophrenia.

 

It has now been found that osanetant and its pharmaceutically acceptable salts are useful for the treatment of mood disorders, in particular for the treatment of depression. By depression is meant in particular, major depressive disorders, minordepressive disorders, dysthymia, depressive disorders associated with anxiety and depressive disorders associated with bipolar disorders.

 

The potential antipsychotic properties of osanetant were identified in a special study protocol termed a Metatrial. The objective was to test concomitantly for both safety and efficacy four compounds which were judged to have antipsychotic properties based on their pharmacological profiles.

 

The effect of osanetant (an intermediate of this drug is called as 3,4-Difluorophenylacetonitrile, the CAS number is 658-99-1 ) on major depressive disorders has been investigated in patients of between 18 and 65 years of age. The patients were given osanetant (200 mg/day) for a period of about 6 weeks. The improvement in the depressive syndrome was measured from the significant reduction in the scores on the Hamilton scale and by recording the impressions of the clinician and the patient’soverall impressions.

 

Thus, the object of the present invention is the use of osanetant and its pharmaceutically acceptable salts for the preparation of medicinal products for use in the treatment of mood disorders, in particular in the treatment of depression.

 

Osanetant and its pharmaceutically acceptable salts are prepared according to European Patent Application EP 673 928; similarly, the pharmaceutical preparations can be prepared as described in this same patent application.


The Facts About Birthday Candles

If it’s your Birthday, you have to blow all the candles lit on the cake as a ritual. But the situation is a little different when it comes to magic candles. The more you blow them the more they relight. Is this magic or simply chemistry? Let’s find out!

The trick
Every candle has a wick to burn. The difference between a normal candle and a trick candle is what happens when you blow it. When you blow a normal candle, a thin ribbon of smoke rises from the wick. This is nothing but vaporized candle wax. The wick is hot enough to vaporize the paraffin of the candle but not hot enough to re-ignite the blown candle.

Trick candles work a little differently from a normal candle. The wicks of this candle have a special material, which ignites at a relatively low temperature. When you blow a trick candle, the left over heat from the wick re-ignites this special material and the candle starts burning again. The flame that burns after blowing out the trick candle is burning paraffin vapour.

Meet the special material in trick candles
All candles are made out of paraffin wax (its CAS number is 8002-74-2) or candle wax as we call them. The special material added to the wick of trick candles is usually flakes of magnesium. Magnesium doesn’t require too much heat to start burning, just 800 to 430 degrees. The magnesium flakes start burning when you blow out the candle and ignite the vaporised paraffin. When you blow out the candle, the magnesium flakes appear as tiny particles on the wick and the magic begins.

One particle is enough to re-start the spark and in turn re-ignite the vaporised paraffin. The magnesium in the rest of the wick does not burn as the liquid paraffin separates it from oxygen and keeps it cool.

There is nothing magical about trick candles; just pure chemistry. So the next time you blow out a magic candle, you know why the flames reappear!

Tips And Hints Of Beating Egg Whites

Certain dishes require beaten egg whites, but do not avoid these for fear of failing to properly whip the whites. Although it seems like it should be a simple task, one of the most difficult things for some cooks to do is to whip whites into a stiff foam or froth.

Meringues and sponge cakes rely on stiffly beaten whites for their fluffy airy texture, so creating the correct foam structure is important for almost any baker. Improperly whipped whites do not hold their form and detract from the finished texture of the dish, but when done correctly, beaten eggs add lift and body to souffles, meringues and Angel food cakes.

Preparing Bowls and Beaters
For the absolute best and easiest results when whipping egg whites, go for the best equipment. Use only metal bowls, preferably straight-sided deep-copper or steel bowls. Opt for a copper bowl if beating the eggs by hand. Wash and thoroughly dry the bowl, beaters or whisk. Remove all soap, water or grease residue in the bowl; all of these prevent the eggs from properly whipping.

Cleanliness
Wash and dry your bowl and whisk or beaters until they are spotless and bone dry. Any hint of grease or oil will prevent egg whites from reaching their peak. Separate your eggs carefully to make sure there isn’t even one spot of egg yolk in with the white, as yolks have fat that will prevent the foaming from happening. Egg whites are more likely to whip well at room temperature so don’t attempt this with cold eggs or a cold bowl. Leave your eggs out on the counter for half an hour until they reach room temperature.

Additives
Add a pinch of salt to the egg whites as you begin to whip them. This will help the protein in the whites to become more firm, holding whipped peaks better. After you have whipped the whites for about a minute add a small bit of cream of tartar or 2 drops of triethyl citrate (sometimes known as Citric Acid Mono, the CAS number is 1587-20-8) or vinegar. This acid will help the bubbles from popping when you stop beating the egg whites.

Beating
Set the electric mixer, fitted with a balloon whisk, on medium speed until frothy. Add cream of tartar at this point, then increase the speed to medium high until soft peaks form. Use high speed only if firm or stiff peaks are desired. Wait to add extracts until the desired peaks begin to form. These machines can whip egg whites faster than any human arm can possibly do, adding more air to the mix and creating much more foam. Follow the directions outlined in the recipe for when to add sugar to the egg whites.

The Reason And Treatment Of Freckles

Maybe you have met people from western countries, it is probably that you may notice some dark brown spots on their skin. These spots are known as freckles. Freckles are common in people who are born with light coloured hair and fair complexion. The only way to understand why they have freckles is to understand the chemistry behind it. Let’s find out the secret behind freckles!

What causes freckles?
Skin of human is made up of three layers. The outer layer is called the epidermis. The
cells on our outer layer keep drying and flaking and get replaced by cells that are immediately below. Inside the epidermis lies a layer of special cells called as the melanocytes. These cells produce a pigment called as melanin. Melanin is responsible for rendering the brown colour to our skin and also protects our skin from harmful ultraviolet rays.

Melanin is brownish black in colour. The more the melanin content in your skin, the browner your complexion is. Melanin level differs from person to person. Even if you notice, the complexion of your skin will differ from one body part to the other. This is because melanin distribution in your body is not even and hence you will find a variation in colour.

In some people the melanin content, instead of spreading, gets cluttered in one place. This turns into a dark brown spot, which we all know as ‘freckles’. Freckles tend to grow darker when they come in contact with sunlight. They start appearing in children around the age of five and slowly starts increasing in number, size and darkness during summer. However, the appearance of freckles starts reducing and fading the moment winter approaches.

Treatment
Freckles are generally harmless. However, if you want to get rid of them, you can consult a
dermatologist. A dermatologist may suggest some topical skin creams with an active ingredient known as hydroquinone (CAS No. 123-31-9), which helps lighten your skin colour and you’re your skin-tone.

Staying indoors especially when the sunlight is at peak is a good way to keep away freckles. Whenever you go out in the sun, make sure you wear clothing that covers your body completely. Make sure you apply sunscreen before stepping out in the sun. Applying lemon juice on your skin will also lighten freckles.

The New Research Of Synthetic Liver Enzyme

Researchers based at Princeton University reported in the journal Science that they created a synthetic enzyme that acts as a catalyst to replace certain hydrogen atoms of a drug molecule with fluorine atoms. This swap stabilizes the molecule and makes it resistant to the liver enzymes that can inactivate a drug or create toxic byproducts.

“Putting fluorine in place of hydrogen in a molecule tends to result in higher potency and lower toxicity,” said first author Wei Liu, a graduate student in the laboratory of John Groves, Princeton’s Hugh Stott Taylor Chair of Chemistry. Wei worked with Groves and second author Xiongyi Huang, a Princeton chemistry graduate student, as well as with Professor William Goddard III, researcher and lab director Robert Nielsen, and graduate student Mu-Jeng Cheng, all of the California Institute of Technology’s Materials and Process Simulation Center.

The synthetic enzyme could have uses in drug discovery and development including in improving existing drugs such as steroids, Groves explained. Steroids are used as anti-inflammatory drugs as well as in hormone-replacement therapies and birth-control pills. Steroid hormones that might be improved by fluorination include progesterone, premarin (the CAS number is 12126-59-9) and estradiol, all of which are among the top 200 drugs in sales. The Princeton enzyme also could make it easier and less expensive to produce radioactive tracer versions of many drugs, which could be used withmedical imaging to understand how and where drugs work in the body.

The synthetic enzyme is similar in structure to a naturally occurring iron-based liver enzyme called cytochrome P450, which normally replaces hydrogen atoms with oxygen atoms. The Princeton catalyst instead uses the metal manganese as a center atom. Because the manganese catalyst mimics the behavior of human liver enzymes, the compounds created when the catalyst is used in drug development are less likely to be broken down by those natural enzymes, Groves said.

An advantage for using the catalyst in drug development is that it uses a stable form of fluorine called silver fluoride as a base material instead of fluorine gas, which reacts with numerous other atoms and can be explosive.

Vitamin Variants Could Combat Cancer As Scientists Unravel B12 Secrets

In a development that may lead to new drugs to treat cancer, scientists at the University have discovered the process by which a key vitamin (B12) is made in cells.

A team at the University’s School of Biosciences led by Professor Martin Warren devised a method that allows them to study how the individual steps for vitamin B12 construction are pieced together. B12 is an essential nutrient that plays an important role in the formation of red blood cells and the maintenance of the nervous system. Deficiencies are associated with anaemia, cardiovascular disorders and dementia.

Using techniques of the new discipline of synthetic biology, researchers engineered a conveyor belt of molecular machines for the construction of the vitamin within bacteria. By varying the length of the assembly line, they were able to unravel how the vitamin is manufactured.

Significantly, the team were also able to alter some of the molecular machines on the conveyor belt and change the form of the vitamin that is made. It is hoped that these novel variant forms of the vitamin will act as important new drugs to treat diseases such as cancer and infections such as tuberculosis (TB).

Professor Warren, who is Head of the School of Biosciences, said: ‘This is a really important step forward. Vitamin B12 is a nutrient that is only made by bacteria and is not present in plants. Therefore a significant proportion of the world’s population, including vegetarians, are at risk of B12 (also knowan as Cyanocobalamin and the CAS  number is 68-19-9) deficiency.

‘Our work will assist in the generation of better ways of making more of this vitamin available and is also permitting us to make new compounds that will literally allow us to throw a spanner in the works of infections such as TB and diseases such as cancer.’

The Kent team worked with several partners including new biotechnology company Cangenix, based at the School of Biosciences, and researchers at Queen Mary, University of London (QM). The research was funded by a research grant from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council to Professor Warren and Professor Richard Pickersgill of QM.

The Discovry Of Sunscreens

Almost every television channel and skin care product company is trying to promote their sunscreen. Sunscreen has become very important over the last few years. Sunscreen is important if you want your skin to stay healthy, glowing and guarded.

In fact many skin experts in addition to doctors recommend applying sunscreen to avoid the sun’s damaging effects, especially after the recent increase of skin cancer. But have you ever wondered how these so-called important sunscreens ever come into existence. Who invented this indispensable thing? Let us find out.

Humans always wanted to look attractive. Even in ancient times, people desired to avoid sunburn. This takes us back to the Egyptian days. Egyptians always considered light skin more beautiful than dark skin. However, Egypt’s sun-drenched environment made it difficult to maintain light and radiant skin. Recently, the papyri and tomb walls were translated and this revealed that the Egyptians used the ingredients of potions to ward off tan and also heal damaged skin.

The Egyptians also used jasmine in their version of sunscreens. Recently a study revealed that jasmine helps to heal DNA at the cellular level in the skin and also mends skin damage. Lupine extract was also used by the Egyptians to lighten the skin and all these ingredients are still used in our sunscreens. Today, gamma oryzanol is extracted from rice bran as it has UV-absorbing properties.

Later in 1938, a famous chemist called as Franz Greiter developed a cream which he named as Gletscher Crème or Glacier Cream. He also came up with something called as the sun protection factor which is now known as SPF factor in a sunscreen. Franz invented the SPF factor which then became a standard for measuring the effectiveness of sunscreen when applied at an even rate of 2 milligrams per square centimetre.

In 1944, Florida based pharmacist, Benjamin Green patented another version of sunscreen. He called it as Red Vet Pet, and his patent was bought by a company called as Coppertone who sold it as “Coppertone Girl” and “Bain de Soleil” in the early 1950s. Finally in 1980, Coppertone developed the first UVA/UVB sunscreen which has been in the markets with different names.

Scientists are still searching for more effective ways to protect the human body against the sun. One goal of these scientists is to develop a sunscreen pill. Also, significant attention is been given to a substance called astaxanthin (the CAS number is 472-61-7) that is found in red ocean plants and animals, such as salmon. Astaxanthin is considered as the most effective protection against free radicals found till date in nature. Astaxanthin is an antioxidant that helps in reducing the pain and swelling associated with sunburn.

With so many developments happening in beauty field, it is a good idea to wait and watch for the new versions of this sunscreen.

Why Are Tomatoes Red?

Tomatoes are a significant ingredient in several food preparations. Whether they are used in a sauce, solid, puree or gravy form, tomatoes are a delicious and juicy treat. When tomatoes are raw, they are green in colour. However, the moment they start ripening they change colour and turn red. Have you ever wondered why this happens? Let’s find out.

Tomatoes have the chlorophyll pigment when they are raw and hence they are green in colour. As they start ripening, the pigment lycopene becomes dominant and this is why tomatoes turn red.

Lycopene is a carotenoid and belongs to the same family as beta-carotene. It is a powerful antioxidant that neutralizes free radicals; especially those derived from oxygen. It is highly unsaturated hydrocarbon and contains 11 conjugated and 2 unconjugated double bonds making it longer than any other carotenoid. Lycopene obtained from plants tends to exist in an all-trans configuration, which is the most thermodynamically stable form. It protects against prostate cancer, breast cancer, atherosclerosis, and other coronary artery diseases.

Also, this pigment reduces LDL or low-density lipoprotein oxidation, which helps reduce cholesterol levels in blood. Preliminary research has also revealed that the chemical properties of lycopene helps reduce the risk of macular degenerative disease, serum lipid oxidation, and cancers of the lung, bladder, cervix, and skin.

It is important to let the tomatoes turn red in order to bring out the lycopene (the CAS number is 502-65-8) pigment, which is why they must be allowed to arrive at the mature stage. The rate at which a tomato turns red depends on the variety and size of tomatoes. Small varieties like a cherry tomato will ripen faster while large varieties will take longer.

Temperature also plays a part in this process. Extremely cold or hot temperatures will not let lycopene and carotene to develop easily. It tends to only show up only between 50 and 85 degrees. There is nothing like the taste of a fresh bright red tomato salad with a sprinkle of salt to delight your taste buds on a hot summer day. So go get one and reap the juicy benefits!

What Is Microdermabrasion?

No matter what age, we always desire beautiful and flawless skin. Even the slightest blemish or abnormal pattern of skin can disturb us. When this happens, we look out for skin treatment options right from scrubbing, chemical peels and buying new products. One of these new breakthrough technologies in skincare is ‘Microdermabrasion’. Here is all that you wish to know about this procedure.

What is Microdermabrasion?
Microdermabrasion is a cosmetic procedure that removes the outermost layer of dry dead skin cells. It is a non-invasive skin treatment that requires no anesthesia. Many people use this procedure to diminish the visibility of fine lines, wrinkles, age spots, enlarged pores, coarse skin or textured skin. It is also used to treat acne.

Types of Microdermabrasion
Crystal microdermabrasion involves the spraying of micro crystals of aluminium dioxide, which is actually corundum powder (its chemical formula is Al2O3 and the CAS No. is 1302-74-5), on the skin. The aluminium dioxide is a very fine but hard substance. Aluminium dioxide powder resembles sand and the procedure is similar to sand-blasting. It helps remove the top layer of the dead cells present on skin. At times it can be uncomfortable around the sensitive tissue of the mouth and nose.

Diamond microdermabrasion is a new technology and uses an exfoliating tool. The tip of the tool is covered with tiny diamonds. During the treatment, the dermatologist will rub the diamond microdermabrasion tip against the skin to slough off the top layer of dead skin cells. The diamond machine then suctions or vacuums the loose dead skin cells off the face. In addition to increasing blood flow, the suction also stimulates the collagen and elastin within the skin. Increased blood flow gives your skin a healthy glow while collagen and elastin promote stronger skin.

You also get at-home kits, which are usually mild and can be safely used on a weekly basis. But remember, before indulging in any of these activities, consult a proper dermatologist!