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Asynt reports that its ReactoMate Reactor System, with glass vacuum jacket, offers outstanding thermal performance thereby improving control of reactions. By reducing heat loss / gain the glass vacuum jacket enables faster rates of heating and uses less energy to cool the system, also lower temperatures can potentially be achieved than vessels without a vacuum jacket. In addition the vacuum jacket provides excellent reaction visibility and reduces condensation – staying ice-free to -50°C. The ReactoMate Reactor System is a safe and super-stable laboratory reactor. Compact in design, the ReactoMate accommodates vacuum jacketed reactors from 50 ml to 10,000 ml and delivers precise control of reaction variables. Support systems for ReactoMate are constructed using stainless steel and aluminium components to ensure stability. Larger vessels (3,000-10,000 ml) are additionally supported at the base of the reactor to enhance safety. Set-up is simple and the compact, ergonomic design of ReactoMate ensures that the unit takes up as little space as possible in a standard fume cupboard, while maintaining convenient access to the reaction vessel. An optional facility to adjust height during operation means that additions can be made easily and space is allowed for draining the vessel contents. The ReactoMate Reactor is part of a comprehensive system, which includes a range of stands, a choice of jacketed vessels and ancillary equipment. Heating/cooling circulators are available to match customer specifications and overhead stirrers with flexible coupling options can also be provided.


The miVac DNA is a compact concentrator from Genevac capable of safely and efficiently removing water and organic solvents from biological samples in a variety of formats including tubes, microplates and vials. The miVac DNA system is very simple to use. The “select & set” single control knob control enables even new users to obtain excellent results first time and every time. To improve performance there are built-in stored methods for concentration of water and water / alcohol based samples, which optimise concentration time. The miVac DNA offers digital control of concentrator temperature and short concentration times, minimising the risk of heat damage to your samples. Unlike centrifugal filters, the miVac DNA concentrates effortlessly and returns 100 percent of your samples every time, and with no consumable costs. Delivering best-of-class performance in all aspects the miVac DNA provides scientists everything they need to safely and swiftly concentrate or dry their samples in a compact easy-to-use package. The revolutionary design has no motor and is therefore very quiet running. The miVac DNA is proven worldwide for reliable, productive use in Molecular Biology, Biotechnology, Academic Research and Forensic laboratories.

For laboratories tired of having to constantly attend to multiple rotary evaporators, the Rocket™ Evaporator from Genevac sets the benchmark for productivity and ease-of-use. Proven in hundreds of installations worldwide, the Rocket Evaporator provides truly unattended operation capability. Requiring no training even a beginner can competently use the system in less than 5 minutes. Simply load your flasks, highlight the desired evaporation method, and press start. Inbuilt monitoring and Automatic End of Run means users are able to focus on other tasks confident that they will achieve perfect, reproducible results every time. Developed in response to users requiring an evaporator that could quickly process large volumes of solvent without supervision, the Rocket Evaporator is able to safely and rapidly dry or concentrate as many as six flasks (each containing up to 450ml solvent) or 18 ASE™ tubes five times faster than conventional evaporators. In addition for concentrating large sample volumes directly into sample vials - the Rocket is fully compatible with Genevac's proprietary SampleGenie™ style flask. To achieve the dual goals of very fast evaporation, with precise temperature control to protect valuable samples, the Rocket Evaporator uses patented drying technology utilising low temperature steam to directly heat the sample flasks. By pulling a vacuum on the samples, solvent(s) boil at a low temperature, which is determined by the pressure. Genevac’s patented Dri-Pure® technology further ensures sample integrity by eliminating solvent bumping and foaming that can lead to cross contamination. Incorporating an inbuilt 3 litre cold trap and requiring no peripherals for operation the compact Rocket Evaporator fits neatly onto a laboratory bench or into a fume hood.

Malvern Instruments Ltd. (Malvern, UK) has announced that it has entered into an agreement with GE Healthcare Life Sciences to acquire the company’s MicroCal™ microcalorimetry business. Financial terms were not disclosed. The acquisition, which is subject to regulatory approvals, is expected to complete in the third quarter of 2014. MicroCal has a 30-year history of developing and supplying easy-to-use microcalorimeters. These systems are used extensively to study proteins and other biomolecules in drug discovery and development. The acquisition of MicroCal will further strengthen Malvern’s rapidly expanding portfolio of analytical solutions for customers in core pharmaceutical and biopharmaceutical markets. Within Malvern, MicroCal will retain its key location in Northampton, Massachusetts and will become an integral part of the Malvern business. Paul Walker, Managing Director of Malvern Instruments, said, “Microcalorimetry is now an essential tool that is used at almost every stage of the drug discovery, development and formulation process. MicroCal is an established technology leader in the field. MicroCal products are an excellent fit with Malvern’s existing portfolio of measurement solutions for the pharmaceutical and biopharmaceutical industries. Their ability to deliver information about drug binding and protein stability is entirely complementary to Malvern’s current products and to those in development. This addition to our business will have an immediate impact on Malvern’s ability to provide a complete range of instrumentation solutions and support across life science research and development. I very much look forward to welcoming the talented MicroCal team into the Malvern family”. Headquartered in the UK, Malvern Instruments is a global business that serves a diverse range of academic and industrial markets, providing instrumentation for the analysis of a wide variety of materials. The company is part of the Materials Analysis Division of Spectris plc. MicroCal differential scanning calorimeters (DSC) and isothermal titration calorimeters (ITC) are used in areas from basic research to the discovery and development of small molecules, biotherapeutics and vaccines. Customers are based in pharmaceutical, biotech, academic and government organizations around the worldwide.

The innovative and proven YMC-Triart technology is now also available with a strong anion exchange functionality for preparative chromatography applications.
This means that the process-related advantages of HPLC purifications can also be used for biopharmaceutical applications.
Customer advantages are:
• high throughput due to high flow rates at high pressure
• high loadability due to high dynamic binding capacity
• efficient column packing due to narrow particle size distribution
• optimised pore and particle size for biochromatography
• alkaline “cleaning-in-place“ (CIP) possible
Ideal for removal of DNA contaminations


Being largest in the world, Enamine catalogue of building blocks has a largest collection of spiro compounds. Over 600 spirocyclic building blocks featuring a variety of chemical classes: carboxylic acids, alcohols, amines, ketones, etc. are available for immediate delivery from Enamine. They have selected the most interesting 288 representatives from the recently prepared pool of compounds to illustrate different options provided by employment of the spirocyclic structures in drug design. The new brochure available as hard copy and as PDF is the seventh in a row in the Selected Building Block Series.

AMRI has announced that the waiting period under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act of 1976, as amended (“HSR”), in connection with AMRI’s proposed acquisition of Oso Biopharmaceuticals Manufacturing, LLC (“OsoBio”) was terminated by the United States Federal Trade Commission on June 20, 2014. As previously announced on June 2, 2014, AMRI entered into a definitive agreement to acquire all of the outstanding membership interests of OsoBio for $110 million in cash. The early termination of the HSR waiting period satisfies one of the conditions to the proposed acquisition. Subject to satisfaction of other customary closing conditions, the transaction is expected to be completed in the third quarter of 2014.

Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories has announced that it has launched Duloxetine Delayed-Release Capsules USP 20 mg, 30 mg and 60 mg, a therapeutic equivalent generic version of CYMBALTA® (Duloxetine Delayed-Release Capsules) in the US market on June 26, 2014. Dr. Reddy’s ANDA is approved by the United States Food & Drug Administration (USFDA). The CYMBALTA® brand and generic had U.S. sales of approximately $5.04 Billion MAT for the most recent twelve months ending in April 2014 according to IMS Health. Dr. Reddy’s Duloxetine Delayed-Release Capsules USP 20 mg, 30 mg and 60 mg are available in several bottle counts.


The market study by Rubicon Strategy Group provides an extensive market overview based on on-the-ground surveys and interviews with business leaders, consumers and customers (pharmacies, drugstores, hospitals and doctors). Part of Rubicon's “Asia Market Series”, it is the first publication that uncovers the opportunities for healthcare companies to expand to Myanmar. The country opening up and the ASEAN Economic Community becoming reality in 2015 are expected to spur growth for healthcare companies and Market Expansion Services providers in Myanmar. According to Rubicon’s study, consumer spending on over-the-counter healthcare products is anticipated to grow three-to-four-times in size, from about USD 140 million in 2013 to USD 480 million by 2020. The research further shows that the medical devices market in Myanmar is anticipated to grow threefold by 2020. Meanwhile, eight out of ten of Myanmar’s consumers are willing to spend more on healthcare products and services if they have access to better options. The strong overall market growth is partly driven by the vast increase in government spending on pharmaceuticals and medical devices. Specialty products, in particular cardiovascular, diabetes and oncology products are expected to experience high growth rates for the next years. Challenges to enter the Myanmar healthcare market however remain. Comparing the healthcare systems worldwide, Myanmar was recently ranked 190th and last by the World Health Organization (WHO). Rubicon’s study confirms that collaborating with a local distribution partner is the only viable means of efficiently accessing the market in Myanmar. This is due to Myanmar’s opaque regulatory environment, the abundance of counterfeit products, complex channels to market and the extremely fragmented point of sale network.

Applied Genetic Technologies Corporation and SAFC Commercial have announced that they signed an agreement to have SAFC provide gene therapy manufacturing services to companies developing gene-based therapies. Under the terms of the agreement, the two companies will co-market AGTC's proprietary HAVE manufacturing method with SAFC's cGMP manufacturing capabilities. AGTC will assist clients in engineering AAV-based vectors and the associated helper viruses for HAVE-based manufacturing activities. SAFC will manufacture AAV vectors with the HAVE system to either support initial research or in accordance with cGMP requirements to support clinical trial development and eventual commercial production. Through this partnership, clients will also have access to bio-manufacturing testing services from BioReliance, SAFC's biologics and early-development services business. "AGTC has established an effective and productive relationship with SAFC to manufacture AAV-based vectors for our own portfolio of gene-based product candidates for rare eye diseases" said Sue Washer, President and CEO of AGTC and added: "AAV vectors have broad potential in treating a variety of genetic diseases, but until recently, could not be manufactured at clinical and commercial scale in a cost-effective manner. Our proprietary HAVE system overcomes these difficulties. In partnering with SAFC, we can now make our AAV manufacturing platform available to academic and corporate organizations that are pursuing gene-based therapies. SAFC is an excellent partner for this endeavour because it is a leading biologics CMO, has substantial expertise with our HAVE system and is known for providing a high level of service to its contract manufacturing customers".

Ash Stevens, Inc. is pleased to announce receipt of a 2014 Lilly Global Supplier Award. Dr. Stephen Munk, Ash Stevens’ President & CEO said: “We are honoured to receive this award and recognition from Eli Lilly and Company. Ash Stevens has a rich history that exceeds 50 years conducting innovative chemical research to develop and manufacture a wide variety of active pharmaceutical ingredients. We are proud to have Lilly as a valued customer”.

With the newly revised ASTM standard for jet fuel, Amyris and Total have started to prepare to market a drop-in jet fuel that contains up to 10 percent blends of renewable farnesane. Developed by Total, one of the world’s leading energy companies, and Amyris, an industrial bioscience company, this new jet fuel blend meets the rigorous performance requirements set for Jet A/A-1 fuel used by the global commercial aviation industry. “The ability of this renewable jet fuel to meet the criteria in the definitive standard for use in commercial aviation is a significant milestone in the ongoing collaboration between Amyris and Total. It unleashes the potential of our renewable jet fuel for the commercial aviation market” said Philippe Boisseau, Member of the Executive Committee of Total, President of Marketing & Services and New Energies divisions and continues: “The introduction of our green fuel for the commercial aviation industry has the potential to lead to a meaningful reduction of greenhouse gas emissions with strong performance. As one of the world’s biggest suppliers of aviation fuel, one of Total’s objectives is to make breakthrough jet fuel solutions widely available to its airline customers, supporting their quest to meet high sustainability objectives”. The revised standard, D7566, developed by ASTM Committee on Petroleum Products, Liquid Fuels, and Lubricants, now includes the use of renewable farnesane as a blending component in jet fuels for commercial aviation.

Solvay has signed a definitive agreement with INEOS to create a strong player in chlorovinyls, to be named INOVYN™. The joint venture is expected to be effective by year-end following the divestments required by the European Commission. Until completion, Solvay and INEOS will continue to run their businesses separately. "Thanks to this agreement we now have a unique opportunity to create a world- class competitive player with high-quality assets and substantial synergies, better able to withstand the challenging environment in Europe" said Jean-Pierre Clamadieu, CEO of Solvay and added: "This is another key step in the transformation of Solvay's business profile". The terms of the joint venture agreement have been simplified and adjusted to the remedies as well as challenging market conditions. Solvay will receive an upfront payment of € 175 million at closing and transfer liabilities worth € 250 million into the joint venture. It will exit INOVYN™ after three years, when Solvay will receive additional cash proceeds targeted at € 250 million.

Fujifilm Diosynth Biotechnologies has announced continued expansion of its process development capabilities with the investment of over US$5.6m in new laboratories and equipment at both its Billingham, UK and Research Triangle Park (RTP), NC, USA sites. This includes the first TAP ambr250 ™ automated bioreactor system for microbial fermentations to be commercially install led in a CDMO at the company’s Billingham, UK site. This investment further demonstrates the company’s commitment to use High Throughput technology and design of experiments to benefit its customers by rapid development of robust scalable processes for their biopharmaceutical production. Also at the UK site, three laboratories have been upgraded and refurbished to accommodate the latest equipment, including new robotic chromatography platforms. At the company’s RTP, NC site, four new process development labs have been added along with new equipment to allow greater flexibility for client project execution. This new equipment and expanded laboratory floor space for both process design and analytical support have significantly increased the development capacity for customer projects at the site.

Tecan has introduced the Fluent™ laboratory automation solution, the latest addition to its world-class laboratory automation portfolio. Fluent is a unique automation concept built around the application-specific needs of laboratories, delivering more capacity and greater speed. Initially focused on meeting the needs of cell biology workflows, Fluent is designed to offer end-to-end automation of cell-based and biochemical assay protocols, providing exceptional simplicity, productivity and confidence for the automation of experiments. Fluent provides high precision, superior throughput and extended walkaway time, making it easier to get more done, more confidently. Completely new from the ground up, it is available in three sizes – offering deck capacities from 30 to 72 microplates – to suit the throughput requirements of almost any laboratory. It simplifies cell-based workflows by allowing flexible integration of all the complementary devices required – including incubators, washers and readers – into a single, fully automated system. Even complex assays can be automated using the platform’s intuitive FluentControl™ software and built-in touchscreen interface, freeing researchers to focus on what really matters – the results.

JPK Instruments reports on the use of the NanoWizard® AFM system in the School of Chemistry at Monash University in Australia. Dr Rico Tabor leads the Soft Materials and Colloids Group in the School of Chemistry at Monash University. Research focuses on several areas. At a fundamental level, the group is interested in exploring the interactions that cause aggregation and assembly, in everything from nanoparticles, droplets and graphene to proteins and cells. This ranges from quite fundamental studies of things like the van der Waals force (of quantum origin) and electrical double-layer interactions, right through to unwinding protein molecules and the forces experienced by emulsion droplets armoured with 2D nanomaterials. In particular, they are exploring ways in which such forces can be exploited, such as whether changing something as simple as pH can cause particles or drops to coalesce or stick together. In other circumstances, more “advanced” stimuli such as light or magnetic fields are used to induce the chemical or physical effects that are required. Dr Tabor describes some of the techniques that are used: “We use many tools frequently from simple things like surface tension all the way up to large-scale facilities such as the Australian Synchrotron and the neutron facilities at the Bragg Institute. However, AFM is the only technique that can tell us directly about forces in such a wide range of systems. And this information is central in understanding why things are stable, or why they phase separate. If we can understand the forces between our dispersed items, be they particles, drops or graphene sheets, then we can design materials that have the characteristics that we want. Although there are other force measuring techniques, for the family of materials that we are interested in - drops, particles, bubbles, etc., AFM is the gold standard in terms of applicability, versatility and precision.

Essen-based Evonik Industries is making an investment in the double-digit-million euro range in a new research center at the Rheinfelden site. Starting at the beginning of 2016, research into silanes will be carried out in modern laboratories in the four-story building. Silanes are used in the electronics industry, in the tire industry, for the production of adhesives and sealants as well as plastics, and in the construction industry. Application engineering, analytics, and quality management will also be located in the new research centre in the future. The center fits in perfectly with the integrated silane chemical production network in Rheinfelden, which encompasses research, development, application technology, and production. At the ground-breaking ceremony on June 30, 2014, Johann-Caspar Gammelin, Head of the Site Services Business Unit at Evonik, said: "For Germany as a business location as well as for Evonik, the ability to create something new is of vital importance. Here in Rheinfelden we are laying the foundation stone not just for the new building, but also for further innovation and therefore advanced, efficient, custom-tailored products". Ralph Marquardt, Head of Innovation in the Inorganic Materials Business Unit, explained the importance of silane research: "Evonik is the global market leader for functional silanes. We make target-oriented investments to build on this position. In this context, first-class research and application engineering are a key factor for further positive development".

Sensirion will present its latest temperature sensor, the STSC1, proving once again that high measurement accuracy can be combined with an extremely attractive price-performance ratio. The latest generation of temperature sensors features high accuracy, low power consumption and minimal size. Sensirion’s sensor family is growing. The STSC1 temperature sensor will be available from summer 2014 and has the potential to build on the success of the SHTC1 humidity and temperature sensor, which has impressed the market a million times over. Its successor will inherit in particular its high-precision temperature measurement and remarkable value for money. The STSC1 focuses on applications that require very precise temperature measurement. It is suitable for consumer electronics, Internet of Things and smart home applications, as well as for data loggers and thermostats. With compact dimensions of just 2 mm x 2 mm x 0.8 mm, low power consumption and supply voltage of 1.8 volts, it clearly fulfills industry requirements. In addition to its easy handling, the STSC1 provides a fully calibrated and linearized digital signal to a microcontroller. Its good genes are also apparent in its application: the STSC1 measures temperatures from -40°C to 125°C with a typical accuracy of +/- 0.3°C. The fully calibrated sensor features an I2C interface and is reflow-solderable. It is suitable for standardized industrial series production of electronic devices and can be successfully integrated into complex applications. Sensirion supports its customers with application expertise gained from many years of experience with millions of sensors.

Novasep, a leading supplier of services and technologies to the life science industries, has announced that its Shanghai-based Asia Pacific subsidiary has secured an Engineering, Procurement and Construction (EPC) contract with Tay Ninh Chemical Industry (Tanichem), a joint stock company between Vietnam National Chemical Group (Vinachem) and Tay Ninh Sugar. Novasep’s share of the contract is in the amount of EUR 7.5 million. The contract is to construct the first sorbitol production plant in Vietnam. Sorbitol, commonly known as a sweetener, is widely used as an excipient stabilizer or moistening agent in drugs, food and cosmetics. Novasep Asia spearheaded the deal, signed between the Novasep-MIE consortium and Tanichem. Novasep will be responsible for the engineering and procurement of process equipment together with some field services. Novasep-MIE will be responsible for constructing and erecting the plant, as well as procuring utility equipment. The sorbitol plant will be located at Tan Hoi Industrial Park, Tan Chau district, Tay Ninh province in Vietnam. This project is one of the first to emerge from Vietnam’s national development planning for pharmaceutical chemistry. Vietnam currently imports all sorbitol for its domestic needs. With this plant, Tanichem will produce sorbitol with an efficient and robust process that provides a competitive alternative to current imports.

Bayer CropScience and Bion Tech, have settled a patent infringement case in Korea. Under the settlement, Bayer CropScience granted Bion Tech a royalty-bearing license to sell lipopeptide-containing products based on Bion Tech’s proprietary Bacillus subtilis Y1336 strain. Bion Tech´s strain Y1336 produces agrastatin, which is covered by claims related to lipopeptides in Bayer CropScience’s patent portfolio. These lipopeptides contribute to the unique properties of Bayer’s Serenade™ products. The license extends to various countries, with a focus on Asia. Financial terms of the settlement were not disclosed. Mike Miille, Head of Business Management Biologics at Bayer CropScience, commented: “Biologicals play a significant role in shaping farming´s future because they help to increase yield and optimize grower´s flexibility.” Bayer CropScience remains committed to investing in research and development to offer farmers worldwide integrated crop protection solutions combining seeds, chemical and biological crop protection products, as well as services and product stewardship measures. “Strong patent protection is the basis for this innovation” Miille added.

Gelest Inc. announces the release of its newest brochure for the pharmaceutical industry, “Silicon-Based Blocking Agents” which features silicon reagents for use in functional group protection, synthetic transformation, and derivatisation. The 52-page brochure presents detailed application information on silylation reagents for pharmaceutical synthesis and analysis. Detailed descriptions are presented on reaction selectivity, resistance to chemical transformations, and selective deblocking conditions.

Aptar Pharma presents a new scientific publication today, following its recent Inhaler Adherence roundtable organized in Paris, France. The theme of this roundtable was “Inhaler Adherence, Exploring Key Factors”. Aptar Pharma recently welcomed a panel of five eminent key opinion leaders specializing in inhaler adherence, from France and the UK: - Ms. Beverley Bostock, Nurse Practitioner, Clinical Lead, Warwickshire, UK; - Dr. Nayna Govind, NG Pharma Consulting Ltd, UK; - Dr. Kevin Gruffydd-Jones, GP, RCGP Respiratory Clinical Lead, Wiltshire, UK; - Ms. Christine Loveridge, Respiratory Clinical Lead, Education for Health, UK; - Pf. Nicolas Roche, Head of Pulmonary Service, Central Paris University Hospital, France. During this one day meeting, which focused on inhaler adherence, the key opinion leaders shared their knowledge and debated a number of topics, including: - Current guidance with regard to therapy/inhaler prescribing; - Specific healthcare professional and patient issues with inhaler devices and unmet needs; - Potential avenues for making more adherence-friendly inhalers; - Healthcare costs, reimbursement and emerging therapies. Aptar Pharma and its distinguished scientific guests were delighted with the successful outcome of the inhaler adherence roundtable.

Onyx Scientific has completed a development and API manufacturing project with US-based Neuronascent Inc., to support the company with its focus on neurologic disorders. Neuronascent develops orally available, novel neurogenic and neurorestorative therapeutics that target Parkinson’s disease, Down syndrome, Alzheimer’s disease and post-traumatic stress disorder. Onyx Scientific assisted the Maryland headquartered firm with the process development and production of a 1kg batch of API that was used in the pre-IND submission along with supporting with initial stability data. Neuronascent’s lead candidate is NNI-362, which is aimed at Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease and other neurodegenerative disorders. Judith Kelleher-Andersson, Ph.D., founder, president and chief executive officer at Neuronascent said: “Onyx Scientific has the ability to synthesize high quality API, while still taking into account the time and financial concerns of a small biotech company. “We have had a very positive experience in dealing with the entire Onyx Scientific team and they have played an important role in moving our Alzheimer’s disease project forward”. With MHRA and FDA facilities in the UK and India, Ipca Laboratories owned Onyx Scientific assists companies from medicinal chemistry and preclinical through Phase I-III, scaling-up to large scale API production.

The vacation season is starting and millions of summer travellers will be flying by airplane. The air at high altitude contains significant levels of ozone. If left untreated, atmospheric ozone enters the aircraft through air conditioning ducts. BASF Deoxo® ozone converters remove ozone from aircraft cabins by catalytically converting it into oxygen. This helps maintain a healthy cabin environment and provides improved comfort for passengers and crew. For more than 30 years, BASF has been the leading supplier of ozone removal systems for nearly all aircraft manufacturers. In addition, BASF offers technology that removes certain hydrocarbon compounds responsible for unpleasant odours, such as the smell of jet fuel, in the aircraft cabin.

In a project that has been awarded a research grant of over USD 500’000 from the Swiss government’s Commission for Innovation and Technology (CTI), VIO Chemicals AG and SpiroChem AG, two Swiss SMEs, joined forces to develop cleaner, safer and cheaper chemical technologies. One of these technologies – flow chemistry - is a method to synthetically produce new classes of molecules more efficiently. “Our pharmaceutical customers are always looking to speed up their drug discovery programs and development processes to maximize the period of commercial exclusivity of their drug on the market. We are using this research to transfer scientific findings into commercial excellence for them” says Dr. Thomas Fessard, CEO of Zurich-based SpiroChem AG.

RUB chemists develop novel catalyst with two functions
Chemists at the Ruhr-Universität Bochum have made a decisive step towards more cost-efficient regenerative fuel cells and rechargeable metal-air batteries. They developed a new type of catalyst on the basis of carbon, which can facilitate two opposite reactions: electrolysis of water and combustion of hydrogen with oxygen. A catalyst of this kind might make the storage of wind and solar energy and the manufacture of cost-efficient batteries, for example for electric cars, possible. The team published their report in the “International Edition” of the magazine “Angewandte Chemie”.

Switching from electrolysis to combustion
When energy is supplied, the so-called bi-functional catalysts can split water into hydrogen and oxygen– referred to as electrolysis. They can then store the energy in the chemical bonds of the thus formed hydrogen. The same catalysts can also have their polarity reversed to become fuel cells; they combust hydrogen with oxygen to water, generating electricity at the same time. So far, researchers have been using noble-metal catalysts for this purpose. However, these catalysts have the disadvantage of being either good for electrolysis or good for combustion, but not for both.

Carbon-based catalysts
The novel catalysts from Bochum are made from manganese-oxide or cobalt-oxide nano particles which are embedded in specially modified carbon, into which the researchers have integrated nitrogen atoms in specific positions. The team headed by Prof Dr Wolfgang Schuhmann and Prof Dr Martin Muhler from the Faculty of Chemistry and Biochemistry analysed the catalysts using a number of spectroscopic and electrochemical methods. They have thus determined which properties are essential for bi-functionality.

“Irresistibly simple” to manufacture
In a previous publication in the “Journal of the American Chemical Society”, the researchers from Bochum described another approach for manufacturing bi-functional carbon catalysts. To this end, they had “cut open” carbon nanotubes by applying thermal energy and oxygen, thus rendering the catalyst particles embedded therein usable. “This method is irresistibly simple,” says Martin Muhler. Compared to noble-metal catalysts, the production would be highly cost-efficient.

The German Research Foundation backed the research as part of the Excellence Cluster RESOLV (EXC 1069), and the Helmholtz-Energie-Allianz as part of the project “Stationary electrochemical storage and conversion systems” (HA-E-0002).

Bibliographic record
A. Zhao, J. Masa, W. Xia, A. Maljusch, M.-G. Willinger, G. Clavel, K. Xie, R. Schlögl, W. Schuhmann, M. Muhler (2014): Spinel Mn-Co oxide in N-doped carbon nanotubes as a bifunctional electrocatalyst synthesized by oxidative cutting, Journal of the American Chemical Society, DOI: 10.1021/ja502532y
J. Masa, W. Xia, I. Sinev, A. Zhao, Z. Sun, S. Grützke, P. Weide, M. Muhler, W. Schuhmann (2014): MnxOy/NC and CoxOy/NC nanoparticles embedded in a nitrogen-doped carbon matrix for high-performance bifunctional oxygen electrodes, Angewandte Chemie International Edition, DOI: 10.1002/anie.201402710

Ruhr University Bochum

ASU-led study yields first snapshots of water splitting in photosynthesis

An international team, led by Arizona State University scientists, has published in Nature a ground-breaking study that shows the first snapshots of photosynthesis in action as it splits water into protons, electrons and oxygen, the process that maintains Earth's oxygen atmosphere.
"This study is the first step towards our ultimate goal of unravelling the secrets of water splitting and obtaining molecular movies of biomolecules," said Petra Fromme, professor of chemistry and biochemistry at ASU. Fromme is the senior author and leader of the international team, which reported their work in "Serial time-resolved crystallography of photosystem II using a femtosecond X-ray laser," in the July 9 on-line issue of Nature.
Photosynthesis is one of the fundamental processes of life on Earth. The early Earth contained no oxygen and was converted to the oxygen-rich atmosphere we have today 2.5 billion years ago by the "invention" of the water splitting process in Photosystem II (PSII). All higher life on Earth depends on this process for its energy needs and PSII produces the oxygen we breathe, which ultimately keeps us alive.
The revealing of the mechanism of this water splitting process is essential for the development of artificial systems that mimic and surpass the efficiency of natural systems. The development of an "artificial leaf" is one of the major goals of the ASU Center for Bio-Inspired Solar Fuel Production, which was the main supporter of this study.
"A crucial problem facing our Center for Bio-Inspired Fuel Production (Bisfuel) at ASU and similar research groups around the world is discovering an efficient, inexpensive catalyst for oxidizing water to oxygen gas, hydrogen ions and electrons," said ASU Regents' Professor and Center Director Devens Gust. "Photosynthetic organisms already know how to do this, and we need to know the details of how photosynthesis carries out the process using abundant manganese and calcium.
"The research by Fromme and co-workers gives us, for the very first time, a look at how the catalyst changes its structure while it is working," Gust added. "Once the mechanism of photosynthetic water oxidation is understood, chemists can begin to design artificial photosynthetic catalysts that will allow them to produce useful fuels using sunlight."
In photosynthesis, oxygen is produced at a special metal site containing four manganese atoms and one calcium atom connected together as a metal cluster. This oxygen-evolving cluster is bound to the protein PSII that catalyzes the light driven process of water splitting. It requires four light flashes to extract one molecule of oxygen from two water molecules bound to the metal cluster.
Fromme states that there are two major drawbacks to obtaining structural and dynamical information on this process by traditional X-ray crystallography. First, the pictures one can obtain with standard structural determination methods are static. Second, the quality of the structural information is adversely affected by X ray damage.
"The trick is to use the world's most powerful X-ray laser, named LCLS located at the Department of Energy's SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory," said Fromme. "Extremely fast femtosecond (10 -15 second) laser pulses record snapshots of the PSII crystals before they explode in the X-ray beam, a principle called 'diffraction before destruction.'" In this way, snapshots of the process of water splitting are obtained damage free. The ultimate goal of the work is to record molecular movies of water splitting.
The team performed the time-resolved femtosecond crystallography experiments on Photosystem II nanocrystals, which are so small that you can hardly see them even under a microscope. The crystals are hit with two green laser flashes before the structural changes are elucidated by the femtosecond X-ray pulses.
The researchers discovered large structural changes of the protein and the metal cluster that catalyzes the reaction. The cluster significantly elongates, thereby making room for a water molecule to move in.
"This is a major step toward the goal of making a movie of the molecular machine responsible for photosynthesis, the process by which plants make the oxygen we breathe, from sunlight and water," explained John Spence, ASU Regents' Professor of physics, team member and scientific leader of the National Science Foundation funded BioXFEL Science and Technology Center, which develops methods for biology with free electron lasers.
ASU recently made a large commitment to the ground-breaking work of the femtosecond crystallography team by planning to establish a new Center for Applied Structural Discovery at the Biodesign Institute at ASU. The center will be led by Petra Fromme.
Arizona State University

Research reveals how key controller protein is switched on

New research has uncovered how a complex protein pivotal in the development of cancer, viral infection and autoimmune diseases is activated. The discovery answers a key question about one of the most widely-researched proteins in human biology, which has been the subject of tens of thousands of research papers and millions of pounds in research funding.
Jiazhen Zhang, a research student in Professor Sir Philip Cohen's laboratory at the University of Dundee, uncovered how the protein complex, called NF-κB, is activated. The results are published in the Biochemical Journal.
NF-κB (nuclear factor kappa-light-chain-enhancer of activated B cells) is a protein complex that controls transcription of DNA. NF-κB is found in almost all animal cell types and plays a key role in regulating the immune response to infection. Incorrect regulation of NF-κB has been linked to cancer, inflammatory, and autoimmune diseases, septic shock, viral infection, and improper immune development.
"NF-κB has been the subject of a vast amount of research for many years as it plays a critical role in inflammatory diseases and cancer," said Sir Philip. "It has been known for some time that the protein is activated by a kinase called IKKβ but there has been split opinion with regards to how the kinase itself is switched on.
"We have confirmed that another kinase, TAK1, is involved, but surprisingly it isn't sufficient to switch on IKKβ. Two other events need to happen in addition, namely the formation of an unusual type of ubiquitin chain and its attachment to IKKβ and then the addition of a second phosphate group on to IKKβ which remarkably is carried out by IKKβ itself. It is only then that IKKβ becomes competent to switch on NF-κB.
"This is complex biochemistry but working out the details of how proteins are switched on and off is how new ways to develop improved drugs to treat disease are identified. For example, the enzyme that makes the ubiquitin chains needed to activate IKKβ could now be targeted to develop a drug to treat inflammatory diseases."
The research was carried out in the Medical Research Council Protein Phosphorylation and Ubiquitylation Unit (MRC-PPU) at Dundee.
Peter Shepherd, Chair of the Biochemical Journal Editorial Board, said, "This signalling pathway is critical for a wide range of cellular responses, particularly stress responses. Understanding how this pathway is regulated is hugely important, and this paper finally clarifies one of the key steps in this process. This is important in not only understanding the disease process, but in the quest to develop new therapies that target this signalling pathway."
Biochemical Society

Eco-friendly versatile nanocapsules developed

The Institute for Basic Science (IBS) has announced that the Center for Self-assembly and Complexity have succeeded in developing a new technology that introduces metal nanoparticles on the surface of polymer nanocapsules made of cucurbit[6]uril.
The researchers have found that using polymer nanocapsules made of cucurbit[6]uril and metal salts can serve as a versatile platform where equal sized metal nanoparticles can be evenly distributed on the surface of the polymer nanocapsules. Cucurbit[6]uril has properties which strongly and selectively recognize organic and inorganic chemical species. This makes it possible to use it as a protecting agent which can stabilize metal nanoparticles by preventing them from clustering together. The metal-nanoparticle-decorated polymer nanocapsules exhibit the following properties in water: high stability for up to 6 months; high dispersibility; excellent catalytic activity; and reusability in carbon-carbon and carbon-nitrogen bond-forming reactions with 100% conversion efficiency.
Even though metal nanoparticles are variously used in industrial, pharmaceutical and agricultural (fertilizer) applications as a catalyst, toxic liquids such as toluene and hexane are usually used as solvents in the carbon-carbon and carbon-nitrogen bond-forming reactions. These toxic liquid solvents raise many issues for concern including environmental pollution, high cost of disposal, health problems and poisoning during the disposal process.
However, this new technology is able to replace those toxic liquids as it allows carbon-carbon and carbon-nitrogen bond-formation with the use of metal nanoparticles as a catalyst, which has high stability in environmentally preferable solvents such as water.
"The research results demonstrated that this new technology shows high stability, dispersibility, catalytic activity, and reusability in water, which other existing metal nanoparticles on solid supports have not been able to do," says Kimoon Kim, director of the Center for Self-assembly and Complexity at IBS. "It is important as it presents new possible applications in green solvents or bioimaging and nanomedicine fields."
Institute for Basic Science

Smell and eye tests show potential to detect Alzheimer’s early

New Alzheimer’s biomarker results reported at Alzheimer’s Association International Conference 2014
A decreased ability to identify odours might indicate the development of cognitive impairment and Alzheimer’s disease, while examinations of the eye could indicate the build-up of beta-amyloid, a protein associated with Alzheimer’s, in the brain, according to the results of four research trials reported at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference® 2014 (AAIC® 2014) in Copenhagen.
In two of the studies, the decreased ability to identify odours was significantly associated with loss of brain cell function and progression to Alzheimer’s disease. In two other studies, the level of beta-amyloid detected in the eye (a) was significantly correlated with the burden of beta-amyloid in the brain and (b) allowed researchers to accurately identify the people with Alzheimer’s in the studies.
Beta-amyloid protein is the primary material found in the sticky brain “plaques” characteristic of Alzheimer’s disease. It is known to build up in the brain many years before typical Alzheimer’s symptoms of memory loss and other cognitive problems.
“In the face of the growing worldwide Alzheimer’s disease epidemic, there is a pressing need for simple, less invasive diagnostic tests that will identify the risk of Alzheimer’s much earlier in the disease process,” said Heather Snyder, Ph.D., Alzheimer’s Association director of Medical and Scientific Operations. “This is especially true as Alzheimer’s researchers move treatment and prevention trials earlier in the course of the disease.”
“More research is needed in the very promising area of Alzheimer’s biomarkers because early detection is essential for early intervention and prevention, when new treatments become available. For now, these four studies reported at AAIC point to possible methods of early detection in a research setting to choose study populations for clinical trials of Alzheimer’s treatments and preventions,” Snyder said.
With the support of the Alzheimer’s Association and the Alzheimer’s community, the United States created its first National Plan to Address Alzheimer’s Disease in 2012. The plan includes the critical goal, which was adopted by the G8 at the Dementia Summit in 2013, of preventing and effectively treating Alzheimer’s by 2025. It is only through strong implementation and adequate funding of the plan, including an additional $200 million in fiscal year 2015 for Alzheimer's research, that we’ll meet that goal. For more information and to get involved, visit
Clinically, at this time it is only possible to detect Alzheimer’s late in its development, when significant brain damage has already occurred. Biological markers of Alzheimer’s disease may be able to detect it at an earlier stage. For example, using brain PET imaging in conjunction with a specialized chemical that binds to beta-amyloid protein, the build-up of the protein as plaques in the brain can be revealed years before symptoms appear. These scans can be expensive and are not available everywhere. Amyloid can also be detected in cerebrospinal fluid through a lumbar puncture where a needle is inserted between two bones (vertebrae) in your lower back to remove a sample of the fluid that surrounds your brain and spinal cord.

Greater neurodegeneration associated with worse olfactory function in cognitively normal elderly
There is growing evidence that the decreased ability to correctly identify odours is a predictor of cognitive impairment and an early clinical feature of Alzheimer’s. As the disease begins to kill brain cells, this often includes cells that are important to the sense of smell.
Matthew E. Growdon, B.A., M.D./M.P.H. candidate at Harvard Medical School and Harvard School of Public Health, and colleagues investigated the associations between sense of smell, memory performance, biomarkers of loss of brain cell function, and amyloid deposition in 215 clinically normal elderly individuals enrolled in the Harvard Aging Brain Study at the Massachusetts General Hospital. The researchers administered the 40-item University of Pennsylvania Smell Identification Test (UPSIT) and a comprehensive battery of cognitive tests. They also measured the size of two brain structures deep in the temporal lobes – the entorhinal cortex and the hippocampus (which are important for memory) – and amyloid deposits in the brain.
At AAIC 2014, Growdon reported that, in this study population, a smaller hippocampus and a thinner entorhinal cortex were associated with worse smell identification and worse memory. The scientists also found that, in a subgroup of study participants with elevated levels of amyloid in their brain, greater brain cell death, as indicated by a thinner entorhinal cortex, was significantly associated with worse olfactory function – after adjusting for variables including age, gender, and an estimate of cognitive reserve.
“Our research suggests that there may be a role for smell identification testing in clinically normal, older individuals who are at risk for Alzheimer’s disease,” said Growdon. “For example, it may prove useful to identify proper candidates for more expensive or invasive tests. Our findings are promising but must be interpreted with caution. These results reflect a snapshot in time; research conducted over time will give us a better idea of the utility of olfactory testing for early detection of Alzheimer’s.”
The Harvard Aging Brain Study is funded by the U.S. National Institute on Aging and the Alzheimer’s Association.

Odour identification deficits linked with transition from mild cognitive impairment to Alzheimer’s
Davangere Devanand, M.B.B.S., M.D., Professor of Psychiatry (in Neurology and in the Sergievsky Center) at Columbia University Medical Center and colleagues investigated a multi-ethnic (34% White, 30% African-American, 36% Hispanic) sample of 1037 non-demented elderly people in New York City, with an average age of 80.7, and assessed them in a variety of ways at three time periods – from 2004-2006, 2006-2008, and 2008-2010. UPSIT was administered in English and Spanish between 2004 and 2006. During follow-up 109 people transitioned to dementia (101=Alzheimer’s); there were 270 deaths.
At AAIC 2014, Devanand reported that, in 757 subjects who were followed, lower odour identification scores on UPSIT were significantly associated with the transition to dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, after controlling for demographic, cognitive, and functional measures, language of administration, and apolipoprotein E genotype. For each point lower that a person scored on the UPSIT, the risk of Alzheimer’s increased by about 10%. Further, lower baseline UPSIT scores, but not measures of verbal memory, were significantly associated with cognitive decline in participants without baseline cognitive impairment.
“Odour identification deficits were associated with the transition to dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, and with cognitive decline in cognitively intact participants, in our community sample. The test was effective in both English and Spanish,” said Devanand. “If further large-scale studies reproduce these results, a relatively inexpensive test such as odour identification may be able to identify subjects at increased risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease at a very early stage, and may be useful in identifying people at increased risk of cognitive decline more broadly.”

Eye exam for beta-amyloid correlates with levels in the brain and detects people with Alzheimer’s
Recent studies have identified beta-amyloid plaques in the retinas of people with Alzheimer’s – similar to those found in the brain – suggesting the possibility of simple, non-invasive methods of early detection.
At AAIC 2014, Shaun Frost of the CSIRO (Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, Australia) and colleagues reported preliminary results of a study of volunteers who took a proprietary supplement containing curcumin, which binds to beta-amyloid with high affinity and has fluorescent properties that allow amyloid plaques to be detected in the eye using a novel system from NeuroVision Imaging, LLC, and a technique called retinal amyloid imaging (RAI). Volunteers also underwent brain amyloid PET imaging to correlate the retina and brain amyloid accumulation.
An abstract prepared by the scientists for AAIC 2014 gives the results for 40 participants out of 200 total in the study. The full study is expected to be completed later this year.
Preliminary results suggest that amyloid levels detected in the retina were significantly correlated with brain amyloid levels as shown by PET imaging. The retinal amyloid test also differentiated between Alzheimer’s and non-Alzheimer’s subjects with 100 percent sensitivity and 80.6 percent specificity.
Furthermore, longitudinal studies on an initial cohort demonstrated an average of 3.5% increase in retinal amyloid over a 3.5-month period of time demonstrating promise of the technique as a means for monitoring response to therapy.
“We envision this technology potentially as an initial screen that could complement what is currently used: brain PET imaging, MRI imaging, and clinical tests,” Frost said. “If further research shows that our initial findings are correct, it could potentially be delivered as part of an individual’s regular eye check-up. The high resolution level of our images could also allow accurate monitoring of individual retinal plaques as a possible method to follow progression and response to therapy.”
The trial is a collaboration between CSIRO, Edith Cowan University, McCusker Alzheimer’s Research Foundation and California-based NeuroVision Imaging. The project is part of the Australian Imaging and Biomarkers Lifestyle Study of Aging (AIBL).

Amyloid detected in the lens of the eye strongly correlates to amylioid levels detected in the brain
At AAIC 2014, Paul D. Hartung, M.S, President and CEO of Cognoptix, Inc. and colleagues reported the results of a study of a novel fluorescent ligand eye scanning (FLES) system that detects beta-amyloid in the lens of the eye using a topically-applied ointment that binds to amyloid and a laser scanner.
The researchers studied 20 people with probable Alzheimer’s disease, including mild cases, and 20 age-matched healthy volunteers; all participants’ Alzheimer’s status was masked from the observers. The ointment was applied to the inside of participants’ lower eyelids the day before measurement. Laser scanning detected beta-amyloid in the eye by the presence of a specific fluorescent signature. Brain amyloid positron emission tomography (PET) scanning was performed on all participants to estimate amyloid plaque density in the brain.
Using results from the fluorescent imaging, researchers were able to differentiate people with Alzheimer’s from healthy controls with high sensitivity (85 percent) and specificity (95 percent). In addition, amyloid levels based on the eye lens test correlated significantly with results obtained through PET brain imaging. No serious adverse events were reported, according to the scientists.
“There is a critical need for a fast, dependable, low-cost and readily available test for the early diagnosis and management of Alzheimer’s disease,” said Pierre N. Tariot, M.D., Director of the Banner Alzheimer’s Institute in Phoenix, and a principal investigator in the study.
“The results of this small Phase 2 feasibility study validate our previously reported results and demonstrate the ability of the FLES system to reproduce the findings of clinical diagnosis of Alzheimer’s with high sensitivity and specificity,” said Hartung. “This system shows promise as a technique for early detection and monitoring of the disease.”

About AAIC
The Alzheimer’s Association International Conference (AAIC) is the world’s largest gathering of leading researchers from around the world focused on Alzheimer’s and other dementias. As a part of the Alzheimer’s Association’s research program, AAIC serves as a catalyst for generating new knowledge about dementia and fostering a vital, collegial research community. Scientists leading the advancement of research gather to report and discuss the most current data on the cause, diagnosis, treatment and prevention of Alzheimer’s disease and related disorders.
About the Alzheimer’s Association
The Alzheimer’s Association is the world’s leading voluntary health organization in Alzheimer care, support and research. Our mission is to eliminate Alzheimer’s disease through the advancement of research; to provide and enhance care and support for all affected; and to reduce the risk of dementia through the promotion of brain health. Our vision is a world without Alzheimer’s. Visit