Chemistry is wonderful. Chemistry now has to play more than ever an interdisciplinary role for new visions. Here are two wonderful studies that I caught singing to me in 2008. Both contain elegant science that promises sheer greatness. Each rocks in a different manner by means of chemistry.

The first one is in polymer chemistry, a dear interest of mine, for molecules that can rotate and slide. The second, an Inventors Hall of Fame winner, solves living-cell networks to cure the sick.

Poly-pseudorotaxanes via Ring-Opening Metathesis Polymerizations of Catenanes - This cool title is about making poly-pseudorotaxanes or "polycatenanes" on the way to designer biopolymers varying from daisy-chain to rubbery-network types. How cool is that! Think of nano- or biomimic chemistry to create molecular structures with specified properties.

A polycatenane is a polymer that is composed of macrocycles that are linked together in a chain. One image is that of Turkish puzzle rings. These polymers offer quite unique properties in comparison to most other classes of polymers because their individual monomers have unique degrees of freedom to move and rotate and slide within each other as the rings do in my example. These movements at the molecular level are expected to produce unusual viscoelastic properties in the bulk material. In particular, such materials are attractive for biomedical use in drug delivery or tissue generation and for environmental applications. The reseachers report:

In summary, we have shown that an ED-ROMP (entropy-driven ring-opening metathesis polymerization) reaction of an olefinic Sauvage-type catenane leads to a reasonably high molecular weight main-chain polypseudorotaxane. This approach takes advantage of using a prethreaded monomer to access polymers that are effectively saturated with threaded macrocycles.

Fault Diagnosis Engineering of Digital Circuits Can Identify Vulnerable Molecules in Complex Cellular Pathways - This is a powerful approach to another difficult problem as expressed best by the researchers:

The core idea of this article is to conceptualize a disorder at the molecular level as a faulty system in which one or more molecules in the complex intracellular signaling network are dysfunctional. Although genome- and proteome-wide expression analyses of biological systems provide a valuable picture of the "expression levels" of the molecules, it is the "functionality" of each molecule that determines the overall performance of the molecular system. We develop useful molecular fault models, similar to some fault models used in digital circuits, to quantify the functionality of different molecules in a network

The CREB (adenosine 3',5'-monophosphate response element–binding protein) network was included for comparison with experimental data. The results are exciting towards understanding the disease process at the molecular level. Thus, an additional capability for drug development is now possible in a more efficient setting .

We are living through a revolution in chemistry. Sing, Chemistry, sing... We love you

Articles: (1) Songsu Kang, Brandon M. Berkshire, Zheng Xue, Manav Gupta, Christianah Layode, Preston A. May, and Michael F. Mayer, Poly-pseudorotaxanes via Ring-Opening Metathesis Polymerizations of Catenanes. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 130, 15246–15247 (2008).
(2) A. Abdi, M. B. Tahoori, E. S. Emamian, Fault Diagnosis Engineering of Digital Circuits Can Identify Vulnerable Molecules in Complex Cellular Pathways. Sci. Signal. 1, ra10 (2008).