Chemistry

Scientists at the Scripps Research Institute and the University of Wisconsin have identified two small molecules with promising activity against neurotoxins produced by the Clostridium botulinum, a compound so deadly it has been labeled one of the six highest-risk bioterrorism agents by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Because of the high cost and limited applicability of currently available treatments, the newly identified compounds have the potential to fill the existing therapy gap and to provide protection against a bioterrorism attack using the toxin.

The study is being published the week of February 5 in an online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

"Our study is an important milestone in the fight against biological terrorism," s

For Duke University theoretical chemist David Beratan, the results of his 15 years of studying how electrons make their way through some important protein molecules can be summed up with an analogy: how do big city dwellers get from here to there?

It's often swiftest to take the subway, Beratan notes, but riders may sometimes elect to alter their route by exiting the train for a short cab ride or a walk down the street. And they also may have to work around a route that is temporarily out of service.


David Beratan poses with subway route map. (Photo Credit: Megan Morr)

How can defense or intelligence agencies safeguard the security of top-secret data protected by a computation device the size of a single molecule?

With cryptography approaching that sobering new era, scientists in Israel are reporting development of what they term the first molecular system capable of processing password entries. Abraham Shanzer and colleagues describe their "molecular keypad lock" in the Jan. 17 issue of the weekly Journal of the American Chemical Society.

Electronic keypad locks long have been fixtures on home security systems and other devices that require a password.