EMARGOED FOR RELEASE: Thursday, Aug. 26, 2021, 5 a.m. Eastern Time

Recordings of media briefings will be posted at 9 a.m. Eastern Time on each day at www.acs.org/acsfall2021briefings. Below is the schedule, which will be updated as needed.


Note to journalists: Please report that this research is being presented at a meeting of the American Chemical Society.

Monday, Aug. 23 posting at 9 a.m. Eastern Time

Sugars from human milk, plants could help treat, prevent infections in newborns 
EMBARGOED FOR RELEASE: Sunday, Aug. 22, 2021, 5 a.m. Eastern Time

Bacteria known as Group B Streptococcus (GBS) are a common cause of blood infections, meningitis and stillbirth in newborns. Although GBS infections can often be treated or prevented with antibiotics, the bacteria are becoming increasingly resistant. Now, researchers have discovered that human milk oligosaccharides (HMOs) –– short strings of sugar molecules highly abundant in breast milk –– can help prevent GBS infections in human cells and tissues and in mice. Someday, HMOs might be able to replace antibiotics for treating infections in infants and adults, they say.

Steven Townsend, Ph.D.
Vanderbilt University

Rebecca Moore
Vanderbilt University

Making nylon 6-6 ‘greener,’ and without zinc 
EMBARGOED FOR RELEASE: Sunday, Aug. 22, 2021, 5 a.m. Eastern Time

Outdoor stadium seats, ski bindings, tire reinforcements and other products that require strength, durability and weather resistance are all made with a type of nylon called nylon 6-6. However, producing this material requires an environmentally unfriendly process, the first step of which uses the endangered element zinc as a catalyst. Now, researchers have developed “greener” methods for this step that use alternative metals. They might even be able to substitute waste iron in the form of rust, or ferric oxide, for the endangered element.

Brian Agee, Ph.D.
Augusta University

Amina Aly
Augusta University

Sniffing out which plant-based burgers smell the most like real beef 
EMBARGOED FOR RELEASE: Monday, Aug. 23, 2021, 5 a.m. Eastern Time

For many meat eaters, summer barbecues wouldn’t be the same without the mouthwatering aroma of burgers cooking on the grill. But many people are now open to trying plant-based alternatives, as long as they closely resemble the taste, odor, appearance and texture of real beef. Now, researchers report that the aromas of a couple of plant-based burgers come close to the real deal when they are cooking, though other products still have a long way to go.  

LiLi Zyzak, Ph.D.
Eastern Kentucky University

‘Flushing’ out drug use trends early in the COVID-19 pandemic 
EMBARGOED FOR RELEASE: Monday, Aug. 23, 2021, 5 a.m. Eastern Time

At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, stay-at-home orders and other restrictions drastically affected how people lived and worked, resulting in social isolation and economic instability. Now, researchers show that some people turned to a variety of drugs for relief. Using wastewater analysis, the team identified a spike in consumption of easily abused prescription opioids and anti-anxiety sedatives, while some illicit drug use plummeted, between March and June 2020.

Bikram Subedi, Ph.D.
Murray State University

Isaac Bowers
Murray State University

Tuesday, Aug. 24 posting at 9 a.m. Eastern Time

Confirming the pedigree of uranium cubes from Nazi Germany’s failed nuclear program 
EMBARGOED FOR RELEASE: Tuesday, Aug. 24, 2021, 5 a.m. Eastern Time

During World War II, Nazi Germany and the U.S. were racing to develop nuclear technology. Before Germany could succeed, Allied forces disrupted the program and confiscated some of the cubes of uranium at the heart of it. The ultimate fate of most of that uranium is unknown, but a few cubes thought to be associated with the program are in the U.S. and Europe. Today, scientists report initial results from new methods being developed to confirm their provenance. The techniques might also help with investigations into illicit trafficking of nuclear material.

Jon Schwantes, Ph.D.
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory

Brittany Robertson
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory

Possible new antivirals against COVID-19, herpes
EMBARGOED FOR RELEASE: Tuesday, Aug. 24, 2021, 5 a.m. Eastern Time

In addition to antibodies and white blood cells, the immune system deploys peptides to fight viruses and other pathogens. Synthetic peptides could reinforce this defense but don’t last long in the body, so researchers are developing stable peptide mimics. Today, scientists report success in using mimics known as peptoids to treat animals with herpes virus infections. These small synthetic molecules could one day cure or prevent many kinds of infections, including COVID-19.

Annelise Barron, Ph.D. 
Stanford University School of Medicine

Compounds that give coffee its distinctive ‘mouthfeel’
EMBARGOED FOR RELEASE: Tuesday, Aug. 24, 2021, 5 a.m. Eastern Time

Coffee drinkers intuitively recognize the pleasure of swallowing a smooth, rich brew versus a watery one. Aside from added cream or sugar, the coffee itself contributes to this sensation — referred to as body or mouthfeel — but the specific compounds are not well defined. Now, researchers report several coffee compounds that contribute to the feeling of the beverage coating the inside of the mouth, as well as astringency and chalkiness sensations. The results could be used to tune processing and roasting conditions for specialty coffees.

Brianne Linne
The Ohio State University

Devin Peterson, Ph.D.
The Ohio State University

Wednesday, Aug. 25 posting at 9 a.m. Eastern Time

‘Nanojars’ capture dissolved carbon dioxide, toxic ions from water
EMBARGOED FOR RELEASE: Wednesday, Aug. 25, 2021, 5 a.m. Eastern Time

Carbon dioxide from the atmosphere can dissolve in oceans, lakes and ponds, forming bicarbonate ions and other compounds that change water chemistry, with possible harmful effects on aquatic organisms. In addition, bicarbonate can reenter the atmosphere as carbon dioxide later, contributing to climate change. Now, researchers have developed tiny “nanojars,” much smaller than the width of a human hair, that split bicarbonate into carbonate and capture it, as well as certain toxic anions, so the ions can be removed and potentially recycled.

Gellert Mezei, Ph.D.
Western Michigan University

Protecting gardens and crops from insects using the ‘smell of fear’
EMBARGOED FOR RELEASE: Wednesday, Aug. 25, 2021, 5 a.m. Eastern Time

For home gardeners and farmers, herbivorous insects present a major threat to their hard work and crop yields. The predator insects that feed on these bugs emit odors that pests can sense, which changes the pests’ behavior and even their physiology to avoid being eaten. With bugs becoming more resistant to traditional pesticides, researchers now report they have developed a way to bottle the “smell of fear” produced by predators to repel and disrupt destructive insects naturally without the need for harsh substances.

Sara Hermann, Ph.D.
The Pennsylvania State University

Jessica Kansman, Ph.D.
The Pennsylvania State University

Evolutionary ‘time travel’ reveals enzyme’s origins, possible future designs
EMBARGOED FOR RELEASE: Wednesday, Aug. 25, 2021, 5 a.m. Eastern Time

“The distinction between the past, present and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion,” Albert Einstein wrote. Perhaps this is nowhere more evident than in protein evolution, where past and present versions of the same enzyme exist in different species today, with implications for future enzyme design. Now, researchers have used evolutionary “time travel” to learn how an enzyme evolved over time, from one of Earth’s most ancient organisms to modern-day humans.

Magnus Wolf-Watz, Ph.D.
Umeå University

Detecting an unprecedented range of potentially harmful airborne compounds (video)
EMBARGOED FOR RELEASE: Wednesday, Aug. 25, 2021, 5 a.m. Eastern Time

Many of the products we encounter daily — from deodorant to pesticides to paint — release molecules that drift through the air. Breathing in enough of the wrong ones can cause serious and potentially long-term health problems. However, it can be hard to estimate exposure because current devices are limited in what they can detect. Today, researchers report development of a new personal air-sampling system that can detect an unprecedented range of these compounds from a special badge or pen attached to someone’s shirt or placed in a pocket. A video on the research is available at www.acs.org/VOCs.

Allen Apblett, Ph.D.
Oklahoma State University and Airotect

Thursday, Aug. 26 posting at 9 a.m. Eastern Time

How migraines protect against diabetes
EMBARGOED FOR RELEASE: Thursday, Aug. 26, 2021, 5 a.m. Eastern Time

People who get migraines are less likely to develop type 2 diabetes, while some people who develop diabetes become less prone to migraines. Today, scientists studying the link between these conditions report how the peptides that cause migraine pain can influence production of insulin in mice, possibly by regulating the amount of secreted insulin or by increasing the number of pancreatic cells that produce it. These findings could improve methods to prevent or treat diabetes.

Thanh Do, Ph.D.
University of Tennessee

Aleksandra Antevska
University of Tennessee

Titan-in-a-glass experiments hint at mineral makeup of Saturn moon
EMBARGOED FOR RELEASE: Thursday, Aug. 26, 2021, 5 a.m. Eastern Time

Titan, Saturn’s largest moon, is a natural laboratory to study the origins of life. Like Earth, Titan has a dense atmosphere and seasonal weather cycles, but the chemical and mineralogical makeup are significantly different. Now, earthbound researchers have recreated the moon’s conditions in small glass cylinders, revealing fundamental properties of two organic molecules that are believed to exist as minerals on Titan.

Tomče Runčevski, Ph.D.
Southern Methodist University

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ACS Fall 2021