Kicking off my SpectroscopyNOW ezine updates this week with an item on how NMR may have unravelled why some people are more susceptible to catching HIV than others. Then there is the MRI work that shows that for obese people BMI (body mass index) is a very poor indicator of heart disease risk based on internal fat distribution.
Next up is work that could tell olive growers the best time to harvest for optimal nutritional benefits and the best olive oil quality without their having to guess based on colour and other subjective factors. In very different research, diamonds and microwaves could herald the advent of quantum computing. While the insidious environmental threat that is arsenic in groundwater on which first reported way back in 1995 still persists but could be so easily handled by new detection techniques. Finally, new clues provided by X-rays about the biochemistry of Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease might one day lead to new approaches to treatment.
Enigmatic viral promotion – An enigmatic component of human semen, SEVI, semen-derived enhancer of virus infection, boosts infectivity of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) which causes AIDS. Since its discovery in 2007, researchers have been hoping to learn more about its structure with the aim of inhibiting its infection-promoting activity; NMR spectroscopy has now produced new clues.
MRI reveals BMI as bogus heart health indicator – Body mass index, BMI, is not a reliable indicator of overall fitness for obese individuals as assessed by internal, or visceral, fat. An MRI and NMR study reveals that fat accumulation in different parts of the body, such as around the heart and the aorta and within the liver, is associated with decreased heart function, but BMI offers no correlation for this problem.
Olive ripening – Nutritionally useful carotenoids and phenolic compounds increase as olives grow but then decrease as they ripen. Now, researchers have demonstrated that monitoring two Raman bands can help growers keep an eye on these changes and so optimise their product for olive oil production.
Resonant approach to quantum problem – Microwave waveguides on a diamond-based chip can generate a magnetic field large enough to change the quantum state of an atomic-scale defect in less than one billionth of a second, using a process that is similar to the one in magnetic resonance imaging and potentially leading to a new approach to quantum computing.
Golden arsenic assessment– A new light-scattering technique that uses gold nanoparticles can selectively detect arsenic ions, without interference from dissolved alkali and alkali earth metals, improving on water tests based on Raman and SPR. UV-Vis spectroscopy was used in conjunction with tunnelling electron microscopy to characterise the nanoparticles themselves.
Parkinson’s X-ray – US researchers have used an X-ray technique to solve the molecular structure of a key portion of a cellular receptor implicated in Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and other serious illnesses.