PRESS-NEWS.org - Press Release Distribution
PRESS RELEASES DISTRIBUTION

Pushing the boundaries of eco-friendly chemical production

CABBI team uses light-powered enzymes to modify azaarenes — molecules crucial to many everyday products — laying the groundwork for a sustainable future

Pushing the boundaries of eco-friendly chemical production
2023-11-16
(Press-News.org) A team of pioneering researchers from the Center for Advanced Bioenergy and Bioproducts Innovation (CABBI) has made a significant leap forward in the complex world of molecular chemistry.

Their focus? Azaarenes, unique molecular puzzle pieces crucial to many everyday products, from eco-friendly agrochemicals to essential medicines. The CABBI team demonstrated an innovative way to modify these molecules, a groundbreaking discovery that holds promise for new industrially relevant chemical reactions and sustainable energy solutions.

Central to their research is the use of photoenzymatic systems. In simpler terms, it’s akin to supercharging nature’s tiny workers, enzymes, with a flashlight, enabling them to assemble or repair molecular structures in unprecedented ways. By harnessing the power of light, these scientists have unearthed novel chemical reactions that were previously thought to be out of reach.

The study, published in Nature Chemistry, was conducted by researchers from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. The lead authors are CABBI Conversion Theme Leader Huimin Zhao, Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering (ChBE), biosystems design theme leader of the Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology (IGB), and Director of the NSF Molecule Maker Lab Institute at Illinois; and Maolin Li, a Postdoctoral Research Associate with CABBI, ChBE, and IGB.

Azaarenes, seemingly minuscule in the vast universe of chemistry, nonetheless play a monumental role. They are the building blocks in a plethora of compounds, influencing even the DNA in our cells. But the challenge has always been in their manipulation.

Thanks to the team’s development of an ene-reductase system — a specialized molecular toolkit using the ene-reductase enzyme that Zhao’s lab has deployed in previous studies — researchers found a way to intricately modify these molecules without collateral damage.

One of the standout achievements of their work is mastering the enantioselective hydrogen atom transfer. Molecules often come in left- and right-handed versions, or enantiomers, much like gloves. The team’s method allows them to selectively target and adjust either version with unparalleled precision. Moreover, through remote stereo control they could make those precise adjustments from a distance.

For CABBI and the bioenergy sector, this discovery is a game-changer. Biofuels and bioproducts — energy and products derived from plant material instead of non-renewable resources like petroleum — represent a greener and more sustainable future. The team’s research has expanded the range of chemical reactions and bioproducts that can be made efficiently.

The study also introduced the concept of asymmetric photocatalysis, a revolutionary technique that ensures consistency in these reactions. That can open up new avenues for producing biofuels and bioproducts from a broader range of biomass feedstocks, which directly aligns with CABBI’s goals and the broader DOE mission to advance sustainable energy and product solutions.

“With our novel approach to azaarenes and the use of enzymatic hydrogen atom transfer, we’re not just pushing boundaries in chemistry,” Zhao said. “We’re laying down the foundations for a more sustainable and innovative future. Our research has broadened the toolkit available for eco-friendly production and has the potential to catalyze breakthroughs in agrochemicals and beyond.”

Beyond the lab, the potential for real-world applications is immense, from leading the charge in sustainable energy to spearheading safer agricultural chemicals. Advancements in bioenergy and bioproducts can lead to economic growth, with new industries, jobs, and products for consumers and potentially more affordable energy sources. By promoting sustainable and efficient production methods, the research can reduce pollution and environmental degradation, resulting in cleaner air and water for communities.

As the world grapples with environmental challenges and the pressing need for sustainable solutions, discoveries like these light the way forward, Li said.

“As a postdoctoral researcher on this project, I’ve been deeply immersed in the intricacies of azaarenes and their potential. Unraveling the challenges of remote stereo control and witnessing the transformative possibilities of our findings has been truly exhilarating. This research isn’t just about the nuances of chemical reactions; it’s about the future of sustainable energy and more. I’m excited to see where this journey takes us next,” Li said.

Co-authors on the study included Ph.D. candidate Wesley Harrison and Postdoctoral Researchers Yujie Yuan and Zhengyi Zhang of CABBI, ChBE, and IGB.

END

[Attachments] See images for this press release:
Pushing the boundaries of eco-friendly chemical production Pushing the boundaries of eco-friendly chemical production 2 Pushing the boundaries of eco-friendly chemical production 3

ELSE PRESS RELEASES FROM THIS DATE:

Hospitals serving large Black, Hispanic populations have fewer resources for cancer care

2023-11-16
Key takeaways UCLA researchers looked at nearly 4,400 hospitals across the U.S., including 864 with high numbers of Black and Hispanic patients. Hospitals serving Black, Hispanic and other racial and ethnic minority patients were significantly less likely than other hospitals to have access to core cancer services like PET/CT scanners, robotic surgery and palliative care. The researchers say further work is need to understand how geographic, linguistic, cultural, cost and discrimination factors affect these cancer care disparities.   Among the nation’s ...

Introducing EUGENe: an easy-to-use deep learning genomics software

2023-11-16
Deep learning — a form of artificial intelligence capable of improving itself with limited user input — has radically reshaped the landscape of biomedical research since its emergence in the early 2010s. It’s been particularly impactful in genomics, a field of biology that examines how our DNA is organized into genes and how these genes are activated or deactivated in individual cells. Despite this synergy, genomics researchers wanting to employ this technology are often challenged by the actual coding necessary to analyze vast pools of dense data. Now, ...

Hunger hormones impact decision-making brain area to drive behavior

2023-11-16
A hunger hormone produced in the gut can directly impact a decision-making part of the brain in order to drive an animal’s behaviour, finds a new study by UCL (University College London) researchers. The study in mice, published in Neuron, is the first to show how hunger hormones can directly impact activity of the brain’s hippocampus when an animal is considering food. Lead author Dr Andrew MacAskill (UCL Neuroscience, Physiology & Pharmacology) said: “We all know our decisions ...

Epidemic-economic model provides answers to key pandemic policy questions

2023-11-16
University of Oxford news release Institute of New Economic Thinking   Embargoed until Thursday, 16 November 2023, 16:00 GMT   Is lockdown an effective response to a pandemic, or would it be better to let individuals spontaneously reduce their risk of infection?  Research published today suggests these two highly-debated options lead to similar outcomes.  A ground-breaking economic-pandemic model, created by an international team of researchers, addresses some of the key policy debates of the Covid-19 pandemic but it ...

New research advances understanding of cancer risk in gene therapies

New research advances understanding of cancer risk in gene therapies
2023-11-16
Medical research has shown promising results regarding the potential of gene therapy to cure genetic conditions such as sickle cell disease and the findings of this study, published in Nature Medicine, offer important new insights into processes happening in the body after treatment. The present study looked at samples from six patients with sickle cell disease who were undergoing gene therapy as part of a major clinical trial at Boston Children’s Hospital. The research brought together an international team of experts, to take a closer look at the genetic changes in the stem cells of patients before and after gene therapy ...

A small molecule blocks aversive memory formation, providing a potential treatment target for depression

A small molecule blocks aversive memory formation, providing a potential treatment target for depression
2023-11-16
Depression is one of the most common mental illnesses in the world, but current anti-depressants have yet to meet the needs of many patients. Neuroscientists from City University of Hong Kong (CityU) recently discovered a small molecule that can effectively alleviate stress-induced depressive symptoms in mice by preventing aversive memory formation with a lower dosage, offering a new direction for developing anti-depressants in the future. “Depression affects millions of individuals worldwide, necessitating more effective treatments. Conventional methods, such as drug therapy with delayed onset of action and psychotherapy, have limitations in yielding satisfactory ...

Plants that survived dinosaur extinction pulled nitrogen from air

Plants that survived dinosaur extinction pulled nitrogen from air
2023-11-16
DURHAM, N.C. -- Once a favored food of grazing dinosaurs, an ancient lineage of plants called cycads helped sustain these and other prehistoric animals during the Mesozoic Era, starting 252 million years ago, by being plentiful in the forest understory. Today, just a few species of the palm-like plants survive in tropical and subtropical habitats. Like their lumbering grazers, most cycads have gone extinct. Their disappearance from their prior habitats began during the late Mesozoic and continued into the early Cenozoic Era, punctuated by the cataclysmic asteroid impact and volcanic activity that mark the K-Pg boundary 66 million years ago. However, unlike the dinosaurs, somehow a few groups ...

The mind’s eye of a neural network system

The mind’s eye of a neural network system
2023-11-16
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – In the background of image recognition software that can ID our friends on social media and wildflowers in our yard are neural networks, a type of artificial intelligence inspired by how own our brains process data. While neural networks sprint through data, their architecture makes it difficult to trace the origin of errors that are obvious to humans — like confusing a Converse high-top with an ankle boot — limiting their use in more vital work like health care image analysis or research. A new tool developed at Purdue University makes finding those errors as simple as spotting mountaintops from an airplane.   “In a sense, if a neural ...

Study finds motorist disorientation syndrome is not only caused by vestibular dysfunction

2023-11-16
Amsterdam, November 16, 2023 – A large case series aimed at understanding the factors underlying Motorist Disorientation Syndrome (MDS) has found that patients experience severe, consistent symptoms comparable to vestibular migraine. Previously there has been speculation that underlying peripheral vestibular hypofunction, when the inner ear part of the balance system is not working properly, contributes to this presentation. However, vestibular deficits were not a consistent feature in the patients studied. The findings have been published in the Journal of Vestibular Research. In ...

Rabies virus variants from marmosets are found in bats

Rabies virus variants from marmosets are found in bats
2023-11-16
Rabies virus variants closely related to variants present in White-tufted marmosets (Callithrix jacchus) have been detected in bats in Ceará state, Northeast Brazil.  Rabies is a deadly disease for humans. Its emergence in distinct wildlife species is a potential source of human infection and hence a public health concern. Marmosets are common in forests and conservation units throughout Brazil. In or near urban areas, they are often captured as pets and later abandoned. They have been linked ...

LAST 30 PRESS RELEASES:

Heart failure in space: scientists calculate potential health threats facing future space tourists in microgravity

Experts offer guidance on talking with children about racism at pediatrician's office

Drugs for HIV and AIDS trialed as brain tumor treatment for first time

Breakthrough in nanoscale force measurement opens doors to unprecedented biological insights

Scientists discover new behavior of membranes that could lead to unprecedented separations

When inflicting pain on others pays off T

The Lancet: Managing gestational diabetes much earlier in pregnancy can prevent complications and improve long-term health outcomes, experts say

New study finds dinosaur fossils did not inspire the mythological griffin

NASA astronaut Woody Hoburg to deliver keynote address at ISSRDC focused on developing a space workforce

Study: Fatigue-management training improved sleep, safety, well-being for Seattle police

Guiding humanity beyond the moon: OHIO’s Nate Szewczyk and students coauthor papers published in “Nature” journals that revolutionize human space biology

Grant supports research to identify barriers to health care for Black women

Scientists at uOttawa develop innovative method to validate quantum photonics circuits performance

New report on community-centered approach to providing vaccine education and resources to persons experiencing homelessness during COVID-19

Government updates race and ethnicity data collection standards: implications and insights

Dr. Vivek S. Kavadi named CEO of the American Society for Radiation Oncology (ASTRO)

Dietary sucrose determines activity of lithium on gene expression and lifespan in drosophila melanogaster

Assessment of CEA, CA-125, and CA19-9 as adjuncts in non-small cell lung cancer management

Iron meteorites hint that our infant solar system was more doughnut than dartboard

Anti-trust regulators should consider their options carefully when start-ups are acquired, new study suggests

Family conditions may have more of an impact on upward social mobility than gender inequality

People with higher weight, and those who have high-quality experiences with higher-weight people, report less weight bias, per social psychology study of US adults

In two separate clinical studies, combined immunotherapy approach enhances cancer patient response

Airborne mapping reveals roles for biogenic sources and temperature in air pollution emissions in Los Angeles

Old bombs reveal new insights: Plants store more carbon, but for a shorter time frame, than we thought

The time it takes a person to decide can predict their preference

Hurricane changed ‘rules of the game’ in monkey society

Researchers widely observe yet seldom publish about same-sex sexual behavior in primates and other mammals - often because it is perceived to be rare

Wild chimpanzees seek out medicinal plants to treat illness and injuries

New catalyst unveils the hidden power of water for green hydrogen generation

[Press-News.org] Pushing the boundaries of eco-friendly chemical production
CABBI team uses light-powered enzymes to modify azaarenes — molecules crucial to many everyday products — laying the groundwork for a sustainable future