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New research by UC Riverside and Stanford University scientists identifies a braking mechanism in olfactory neurons that helps generate an amazing diversity of sensors in the nose

The human nose has millions of olfactory neurons grouped into hundreds of different neuron types. Each of these neuron types expresses only one odorant receptor, and all neurons expressing the same odorant receptor plug into one region in the brain, an organization that allows for specific odors to be sensed.
For example, when you smell a rose, only those neurons that express a specific odor receptor that detects a chemical the rose emits get activated, which in turn activates a specific region in the brain. Rotten eggs, on the other hand, activate a different class of neurons that express a different (rotten egg) receptor and activate a different part of the brain. How the one-receptor-per-neuron pattern — critical for odor discrimination — is achieved in olfactory neurons is a mystery that has frustrated scientists for long.
Now a team of scientists, led by neurobiologists at the University of California, Riverside, has an explanation. Focusing on the olfactory receptor for detecting carbon dioxide in Drosophila (fruit fly), the researchers identified a large multi-protein complex in olfactory neurons, called MMB/dREAM, that plays a major role in selecting the carbon dioxide receptors to be expressed in appropriate neurons.
Study results appear in the Nov. 15 issue of Genes & Development. The research is featured on the cover of the issue.

Braking mechanism
According to the researchers, a molecular mechanism first blocks the expression of most olfactory receptor genes (~60) in the fly's antennae. This mechanism, which acts like a brake, relies on repressive histones —proteins that tightly wrap DNA around them. All insects and mammals are equipped with this mechanism, which keeps the large families of olfactory receptor genes repressed.
"How, then, do you release this brake so that only the carbon dioxide receptor is expressed in the carbon dioxide neuron while the remaining receptors are repressed?" said Anandasankar Ray, an assistant professor of entomology, whose lab conducted the research. "Our lab, in collaboration with a lab at Stanford University, has found that the MMB/dREAM multi-protein complex can act on the genes of the carbon dioxide receptors and de-repress the braking mechanism — akin to taking the foot off the brake pedal. This allows these neurons to express the receptors and respond to carbon dioxide."
Ray explained that one way to understand the mechanism in operation is to consider a typewriter. When none of the keys are pressed, a spring mechanism or "brake" can be imagined to hold the type bars away from the paper. When a key is pressed, however, the brake on that key is overcome and the appropriate letter is typed onto the paper. And just as typing only one letter in one spot is important for each letter to be recognized, expressing one receptor in one neuron lets different sensor types to be generated in the nose.
"If this were not the case, a single cell would express several receptors and there would be no diversity in sensor types," Ray said. "Our study then attempts to answer a fundamental question in neurobiology: How do we generate so much cellular diversity in the nervous system?"
Next, the researchers will test whether the receptor-braking mechanism they identified in Drosophila is also involved in other organisms like mosquitoes. They also will examine the other receptors in Drosophila to explain what de-represses each one of them.

Modulating response levels
The researchers also found that the activity of the MMB/dREAM multi-protein complex in Drosophila can alter levels of the carbon dioxide receptor and modulate the level of response to carbon dioxide.
"If you dial down the activity of the complex, you also dial down the expression of the carbon dioxide receptors, and the flies cannot sense carbon dioxide effectively," Ray said. "What's particularly encouraging is that this complex is highly conserved in mosquitoes as well, which means that we may be able to dial down the activity of this complex in mosquitoes using genetic strategies, and potentially lower the ability of mosquitoes to sense carbon dioxide, used by them to find human hosts. Because carbon dioxide receptors are so well conserved in mosquitoes, we expect that the regulatory mechanism we discovered in Drosophila may also be acting on mosquito carbon dioxide receptors."

Antenna versus maxillary palp
Interestingly, flies sense carbon dioxide with receptors located in their antennae, and avoid the source. Mosquitoes, on the other hand, are attracted to carbon dioxide and use receptors located not on their antenna but another organ called the maxillary palps (small structures present near the mouthparts). The research team found that two specific proteins in the multi-protein MMB/dREAM complex in mosquitoes have sequences that are quite different from those of the corresponding proteins in Drosophila.
"These proteins — E2F2 and Mip120 — could explain why Drosophila expresses carbon dioxide receptors in the antennae while the mosquito expresses them in its maxillary palp," Ray said.


Your emotions can certainly impact your decisions, but you might be surprised by the extent to which your emotions affect your pocketbook. New research from psychological scientist Jennifer Lerner of the Harvard Kennedy School of Government and colleagues Ye Li and Elke U. Weber of Columbia University explores how impatience brought on by sadness can in turn produce substantial financial loss. The study is published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.
Using data collected at the Harvard Decision Science Laboratory and the Center for Decision Sciences at Columbia, the authors found that subjects randomly assigned to view a video that induced sadness exhibited impatience and myopia, which were manifested in financial decisions that elicited higher gains in the short term, but lesser gains over the longer term. Thus, subjects in the sadness condition earned significantly less money than subjects in the neutral condition. They showed what is known as “present bias,” wherein decision makers want immediate gratification and so they ignore greater gains associated with waiting.
“Across three experiments, the median sad participant valued future rewards (i.e., those delayed by 3 months) 13% to 34% less than did the median neutral-state participant. These differences emerged even though real money was at stake and even though discount rates in the neutral condition were already high,” the authors reported.
“These experiments, combining methods from psychology and economics, revealed that the sadder person is not necessarily the wiser person when it comes to financial choices,” they concluded. “Instead, compared with neutral emotion, sadness — and not just any negative emotion — made people more myopic, and therefore willing to forgo greater future gains in return for instant gratification.”
Lerner and her co-authors contend that the findings have important implications for the design of public policy — in areas such as estate planning and credit card regulations.
“Public-policy design and implementation need to be based on consideration of the full range of psychological processes through which decisions are made,” the authors argue. “Fully understanding these processes may also help address the economic problems associated with Americans’ increasing reliance on credit cards.”
Jennifer Lerner is Professor of Public Policy and Management at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government as well as Director of the Harvard Laboratory for Decision Science. This inter-disciplinary laboratory, which she co-founded with two economists, draws primarily on psychology, economics, and neuroscience to study human judgment and decision-making.


New research demonstrates that daily cleaning of high-touch surfaces in isolation rooms of patients with Clostridium difficile (C. difficile) or methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) significantly reduces the rate of the pathogens on the hands of healthcare personnel.  The findings underscore the importance of environmental cleaning for reducing the spread of difficult to treat infections. The study is published in the October issue of Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology, the journal of the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America (SHEA).
Researchers from the Cleveland Veterans Affairs Medical Center conducted a prospective, randomized trial comparing regular cleaning protocols of housekeeping staff with daily disinfection of high-touch surfaces performed by researchers (i.e., bed rail and bedside tables, call button and phone, and toilet seat, and bathroom hand rail) in 34 C. difficile and 36 MRSA isolation rooms. The study assessed hand contamination of physicians, nurses, and research staff six to eight hours after disinfection procedures. In rooms with daily disinfection, there were significant reductions in the amount and frequency of pathogens on the hands of investigators and healthcare personnel caring for the patients (6.4% with daily disinfection versus 30% with standard cleaning).
“These findings add to the growing body of evidence supporting environmental cleaning and disinfection as an important infection control strategy,” said Sirisha Kundrapu, MD, a lead author of the study. “The intervention was simple, inexpensive, and well-accepted by patients and staff.”
Regular cleaning protocols of housekeeping staff include disinfection of patient rooms with sodium hypochlorite after discharge, daily cleaning of bathrooms and floors, and cleaning of high-touch surfaces only if visibly soiled. During the study period, less than 10 percent of high-touch surfaces in C. difficile or MRSA rooms were cleaned daily using regular protocols. Rooms randomized to daily disinfection were cleaned each morning for seven days, or until discharge. The daily disinfection took about 20 minutes per room.
The study highlights the impact small changes in environmental cleaning can have on preventing transmission and patient exposure to harmful pathogens, but has several limitations. Limitations of the study include daily disinfection performed by research staff rather than by housekeeping staff of the medical center, researchers did not measure adherence to hand hygiene and contact precautions for the healthcare workers whose hands were cultured and did not attempt to assess whether healthcare worker hand contamination was due to noncompliance with glove use or lack of proper technique when removing gloves. Molecular typing was not performed to determine whether hand isolates matched environmental isolates.

Clostridium difficile (C. difficile)

Clostridium difficile (C. difficile) is a gram-positive bacterium responsible for a severe form of diarrhea and other intestinal diseases. Most importantly, it causes infection after the use of antibiotics to treat bacterial infection. It can also cause one of the severe inflammations of the colon i.e. pseudomembranous colitis. According to CDC reports, diarrhea caused by C. difficile is linked to 14000 deaths in America annually.

Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America

(Signed: Clariant) a November evening thought

“Take the A train” is one of the most famous tunes of the jazz composer Duke Ellington. It was performed in an historical tour of the Rolling Stones in the ’80s, and I recall myself (much younger) listening to it at their Turin Concert in Italy. A train makes you think to energy, changes occurring, something powerful, new frontiers, and if the train is “white”, a quite unusual color indeed for a train, the inner message could be quite evocative. White recalls an empty page we can write in, a table we can lay, a painting we can create. Back to music again, white reminds me one of the most famous pop albums, The “White Album” by the Beatles. Both the “fab four” of Liverpool and the Stones celebrate their 50th Anniversary in 2012 (though the fab four no longer entertain us on stage, they still warm our hearts with their music). These groups have inspired a number of generations, giving people new energy, new dreams, new hopes, and will continue to do so.

Why should I sound weird and speak of trains and rock concerts in a chemistry journal? Well, because there’s a chemistry in our hearts working to switch on an engine everybody has inside: our imagination.

Our imagination can hurl us through the longest of journeys in a matter of seconds, can work out a complex story in just moments, can make us tune a song even though we're not singers. My own chemistry was triggered one rainy, dark November night in Basel when, after catching a tram in the dark, I realized it was white, I mean painted in white instead of the usual, familiar green. It was all white inside as well, with several messages eyeing from the walls, one of them very attractive and meaningful: “What is precious to you?”. It was a Clariant advert. The whole company is going through a period of important changes, as we’ve reported in an article in this issue. We’ll certainly learn more in the new year, but indeed we can already sense that these developments will impact on chemistry worldwide. Clariant is an historical company in the field of chemistry, as we describe in the aforesaid article. It has always played a major role in the market, thus in the everyday life of people, uur lives. Chemistry is at the basis of everything we do, and good chemistry makes us live a better life. And what is most precious to us today? Living a good life, for me, my family and friends, the whole world. Living a good life means many things indeed, but in this context it means having a good quality of life, where the things that are essential to us are respected and shared, where we can look at the future with optimism, hope and dreams we can make come true.
Chemistry has played a key role in our lives ever since, and chemical companies have always been there to support this. One important thing showing this is how the industry is dealing with a key issue today in chemistry, summed up in the two words “I care”. Sustainability is the answer to the demand for caring, it is the engine of our lives, the driver for our future.
Clariant has strongly committed for a new future. And I think that a white tram full of people running in the dark of our towns can be a symbol which tell us that a new future is indeed possible, and that chemistry will always be there, at our side, with us, shaping and supporting everyday life. Because life is a precious gift, for everyone.


Coffee giant Starbucks in Hong Kong is testing out an innovative recycling process that turns old, stale baked goods and coffee grinds into bio-plastics and laundry detergent in an attempt to lessen its environmental footprint.
The project, led by scientists at the City University of Hong Kong, is being tested at a new food ‘biorefinery,' that diverts food waste and transforms it into viable, usable products.
The project was presented at a meeting of the world's largest scientific society, the 244th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society in Philadelphia this week.
Like oil refineries which covert petroleum into fuel and other ingredients for use in consumer products, biorefineries transform corn, sugar cane, and other plant-based material into bio-based fuels and other products.
But using raw food staples to produce fuel has been a thorny subject, as environmentalists say it's a shortsighted solution that would drive up food prices and contribute to food shortages.
Recycling food waste, however, to make other viable consumer products has the potential of diverting tons of garbage from landfills and reducing the need to manufacture goods from virgin, raw sources, scientists say.
Starbucks Hong Kong produces about 5,000 tons of used coffee grounds and unconsumed baked goods that end up in the garbage bin every year. Currently, most of the waste is incinerated, composted or disposed of in landfills.

“How it works”
The food biorefinery process, meanwhile, involves blending the stale baked goods with a mixture of fungi that help break down the carbohydrates into simple sugars. The blend is then fermented in a vat where bacteria transform the sugars into succinic acid, a key material that's used to produce everything from laundry detergent, plastic, to medicine, scientists explain.
Baked goods have also been used to create livestock feed.
British supermarket chain Sainsbury's, meanwhile, is the largest retail user of anaerobic digestion technology which turns food waste into energy -- a process that has generated enough electricity to power 2,500 homes.


The British Association for Chemical Specialities (BACS) is a UK-based trade association which represents companies operating in the speciality chemicals sector of the chemicals supply chain. BACS has around 120 members, including multi-national chemical companies, small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) and sole traders. Member companies include manufacturers of speciality chemical ingredients, ?ne chemicals, performance chemicals for industrial and consumer use and process aids for industrial applications, together with formulators, distributors, retailers and service companies. Most members are UK-based but this is not a condition of membership. The Association provides cost-effective membership services, which include the opportunity to participate in the work of sector groups catering for the diversity of members' interests, access to a wide range of information, support on issues, a helpdesk facility for any regulatory or technical queries individual companies may have and a range of training courses. The BACS Programme of sector group meetings and specialist training courses is a source of valuable information for member companies to keep abreast of industry developments and an aid to professional development. BACS also represents members' interests through engagement in the UK with Government, the wider chemical industry and other stakeholders and through involvement at the European level, in an attempt to in?uence the regulatory and policy climate within which companies in the chemical industry have to operate. BACS is a company limited by guarantee. The members of the Executive Committee are elected by member companies at Annual General Meetings and are the directors of the company. The Executive Committee, supported by the secretariat, manages the business and sets priorities for the work of the Association. BACS operates a range of sector groups, which report to the Executive Committee, relating to the fields of regulatory affairs, biocides and biosciences, water treatment, surfactants formulation and personal care.  Whilst the Regulatory Affairs Forum covers health, safety and environmental legislation and policies relevant to all member companies, the other sector groups focus on speci?c product and application areas. Although the ?ve sector groups of the Association have evolved and operate in different ways from each other, their common feature is that they all act as forums for members to exchange information and keep up-to-date on industry developments and issues of common interest, always respecting competition law, and, when relevant, to formulate responses to consultation documents and positions for lobbying.

Mibelle Biochemistry launches AnaGain™, an ingredient designed for hair care products to successfully fight hair loss. AnaGain™, which is based on organic pea sprouts, has proven to clearly reactivate hair growth by directly targeting the dermal papilla cells that are key to the hair growth cycle. Thanks to its double action, AnaGain™ successfully boosts the expression of the noggin gene, which results in a shorter resting period – telogen phase, and it also enhances the expression of the fibroblast growth factor-7 gene. This in turn stimulates the proliferation of hair germ cells to grow hair.


Croda Europe has launched a new low coloured biobased surfactant. NatraSense AG-810 provides excellent detergency, superior wetting, dispersing and interfacial tension reduction properties for increased soil removal. NatraSense AG-810 is especially effective in hard surface cleaning applications as it provide a nonstreaky clean on glossy surfaces and is non-corrosive to synthetic materials, a common problem with many non-ionic surfactants.

The Global Personal Care business of AkzoNobel Surface Chemistry is pleased to announce that Puck van Doorn has joined the Surface Chemistry EMEIA group as Marketing Project Manager, Personal Care Applications. Van Doorn brings her experience in business plan development, defining and introducing price strategies, and development and implementation of new applications and markets to her new position.

Dow Personal Care has showcased its rich portfolio of personal care ingredients and solutions during In Cosmetics Asia 2012. “We are very excited to have the opportunity to present our new findings and pioneering solutions to customers and visitors in the region at In-Cosmetics Asia” said Sudhir Shenoy, general manager for Dow Personal Care in Asia Pacific and continued: “Asia is one of our most important global markets and Dow is strongly committed to our customers’ continued success and enhancing consumers’ experience with personal care products in this region through our scientific expertise and in-depth application knowledge”.

DKSH, and Clariant have entered into a regional distribution partnership covering India, the Philippines and Vietnam for the Industrial & Consumer Specialty Business Unit. Cori Diaz, Vice President Key Client Management, DKSH Performance Materials refers: “We are pleased that Clariant has chosen DKSH as their Market Expansion Services partner in Asia. We have a strong customer base that has been established over nearly 150 years of doing business in Asia, and we are confident that our local business partners will be excited about the opportunity to have access to Clariant’s personal care, and paints and coatings products through our extensive distribution network”.

A research by the Technical University of Delft in The Netherlands confirms that Flairosol™ ImPress provides a unique and appealing liquid dispensing solution for users within the household chemicals and air care markets. Developed by Afa Dispensing Group (Afa), the Flairosol dispenser is non-pressurized and operates without the need for propellant gases. It dispenses fluids in a very fine, mist-like spray. Dennis Stevens, Executive Vice-President, Afa Dispensing Group refers: “We are delighted to see that the Delft University results not only support but exceed what we have believed all along - that Flairosol draws on and combines the benefits of aerosols and trigger sprayers in a functional, attractive and sustainable solution […] This is truly remarkable for a new spray package that users have no prior experience of – it indicates that Flairosol is very intuitive to use and adopt”.

During Sepawa 2012 Clariant has presented a fresh selection of new ingredients and product ranges, for detergents through to skin and hair care formulations, which respond to market trends such as low washing temperatures, natural ingredients, and eco-label status. At the same time, attention-grabbing color possibilities support consumer desire for strong visual appeal. The event was also the first time that the versatile detergent additives LAUNDROSIL®, LAUNDROCLIN® and LAUNDROBRIGHT® from the former Süd-Chemie product range were presented within Clariant’s current product series.

Ajinomoto Co., Inc. (Ajinomoto Co.) has announced that it concluded a joint venture agreement with PT Lautan Luas Tbk (LTL), a listed Indonesian chemical company, to establish PT Lautan Ajinomoto Fine Ingredients. This initiative will expand manufacturing capacity for cosmetic ingredients that use amino acids as raw materials in order to accommodate future expansion of the personal care market, particularly in Asia.

Wrinkle formation is one of the today’s consumer major concerns as wrinkles and fine lines represent the most visible sign of aging. BASF´s Beauty Creations – the cosmetic active ingredient business of BASF, resulting from the merger of Beauty Care Solutions and Laboratoires Sérobiologiques – has developed Ultra Filling Spheres™, the ultimate next generation Filling Spheres™, with increased technical performance for improved skin benefits. Ultra Filling Spheres™ is a new and better performing version of Filling Spheres™ – Beauty Creations‘ renown breakthrough concept in wrinkle filling – which have been especially designed to instantly fill in wrinkles and fine lines in a more efficient manner.

Evonik’s personal care will introduce its most latest innovative products and unveil Move 360°, which shall support cosmetic manufacturers in developing their eco-optimized products to meet consumer demand. Evonik new organics production facility for Asia region located in Shanghai will be opened in 2013. With local production and locally oriented R&D centre, Evonik will meet Asia-Pacific customers' needs in industrial specialties industry.

Croda has introducted Solaveil ST-100, a new Titanium Dioxide (TiO2) dispersion that combines optimum UV performance with enhanced aesthetics enabling you to formulate sensationally light and luxurious UV protection products. Featuring innovative silane coating, which is covered by an international patent, Solaveil ST-100 offers excellent UVB protection and due to a tightly controlled particle size distribution provides true transparency on the skin. The company refers that Solaveil ST-100 is the first product to be launched under the family name Solaveil Sensation.

BASF’s personal care business draws its inspiration for innovation from real life in doing so, BASF’s personal care business helps its customers to successfully serve current consumer demands and anticipate upcoming trends. Its brand Care Creations™ as well as the communication concept “Inspired by life” clearly give voice to this commitment to be at the pulse of consumers and the markets, while expressing the strengths of BASF’s personal care business. Thomas Schroeder, Regional Business Management Personal Care Europe refers: “We are constantly evaluating options to satisfy current and future market demands […] and in our personal care business we are continually striving to drive innovation forward by combining our strengths of science excellence and market empathy”.

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