Monday, July 18, 2011

AkzoNobel planning world class UK manufacturing plant

AkzoNobel announced plans to build a world class, hi-tech manufacturing facility in the north-east of England, reinforcing its strategic commitment to accelerated and sustainable growth.

Around €110 million is earmarked for the custom-built Decorative Paints site, designed to enable the company to deliver the most efficient supply chain operations, reduce operating working capital and accelerate its response to changing market and customer demands. The planned new facility is within 25 miles of AkzoNobel's existing site in Prudhoe, and is anticipated to be operational by the end of 2014.

The plans include a proposal to close the company's Prudhoe site and its manufacturing operations in Slough in three-and-a-half years' time. They will now be put forward to employees for consultation. Production would be maintained at the required levels prior to operations being transferred. The intention is for Slough to remain the headquarters for the UK Decorative Paints business and for global research and development, and marketing.

Incorporating a range of innovative technologies, which for example will recycle and reuse waste and water, the facility would consume 60 percent less energy compared with today's operations. Continued Stuckes: "Before making any final decision on the proposal, we will now enter into a period of consultation with our employees. If the project goes ahead, there would be relocation possibilities for those with the desired skill-set who wish to transfer to the new site."


Arkema completes the acquisition of Total’s Coatings Resins and Photocure Resins

Arkema’s acquisition from Total of coatings resins from both Cray Valley and Cook Composites and Polymers, and the photocure resins of Sartomer has been approved by the antitrust authorities in all countries concerned and is now final. Arkema is pleased to welcome these new businesses, which complement its offering to the coatings market and strengthen the downstream integration of its acrylics business. Representing sales of €850 million, these new activities enable Arkema to become one of the world’s leaders in the materials market for coatings and paints.

This major acquisition falls perfectly in line with Arkema’s growth strategy. The purchased assets represent sales of €850 M*, with almost 1,750 employees at some twenty sites on four continents. Arkema will benefit in particular from new growth engines in Asia with Cray Valley sites in India and Malaysia, and a newly opened Sartomer site in Nansha, south of Guangzhou in China.

«The acquisition of Total’s specialty resins is a new major step in Arkema’s development. These activities will allow Arkema to boost its positions in its markets, making the Group one of the leading suppliers to the paint and coating industry with a global offering in terms of technologies and worldwide coverage», states Thierry Le Hénaff, Arkema Chairman and Chief Executive Officer.

The Cray Valley and Cook Composites and Polymers resins (waterborne and solvent-based, powder, rheology additives) and the Sartomer high added value photocure resins (for fiber optics, graphic arts, electronics, etc.) enhance Arkema’s product portfolio for coatings applications, which includes waterborne polymer emulsions, Kynar® PVDF resins, Coatex rheology additives, and Rilsan® and Orgasol® fine powders.

Capitalizing on synergies between its existing R&D centers and the assets acquired from Total, Arkema will assist its global customers in their search for innovative and environmentally sound formulations that comply with local regulations.

The Cray Valley and Cook Composites and Polymers resins will join the Emulsion Systems business unit as part of a new structure named Arkema Coating Resins, while the Sartomer activities (photocure resins) will make up a new business unit. Both business units will be part of the Industrial Chemicals segment, with decision centers based in the United States.


The 2011 Körber Prize goes to Stefan Hell

Prof. Dr. Dr. h. c. Stefan Hell of the Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry in Göttingen is to receive the 2011 Körber European Science Prize endowed with 750,000 euros for his pioneering discoveries in the field of optics. Every year, the Körber Prize is awarded to an outstanding scientist working in Europe on particularly promising projects. The prizewinner is selected by an international trustee committee chaired by Prof. Dr. Peter Gruss, President of the Max Planck Society.

How deeply can we penetrate into the details of the visible world with optical microscopes? Previously, the law formulated by Ernst Abbe in 1873 was regarded as the absolute lower limit. Objects lying closer to each other than 200 millionths of a millimetre, i.e. about one two hundredth of a hair's breadth, can no longer be distinguished from one another. The reason for this is the wave nature of light, the half wavelength of which roughly corresponds to those 200 nanometres.

The STED (Stimulated Emission Depletion) microscopy, which the Göttingen-based physicist Stefan Hell invented and developed to application readiness, allows scientists to gain insights into the nano world far beyond this limit. Biologists and physiologists in particular value this breakthrough, because living cells or tissue can only be observed using optical microscopes. In 2008, for instance, neurophysiologists using the new resolution of only a few dozen nanometres succeeded in visualising the movements of tiny synaptic components for the first time. In addition, the concept underlying STED microscopy opened up new prospects for the further development of optical storage media.

Stefan Hell overcame Abbe's barrier in the imaging of fluorescent objects. In this process, which is used widely in biology and medical research, the specimens to be examined are marked with fluorescent molecules and illuminated – e.g. with a focussed laser beam. The beam excites the molecules so that they emit fluorescent light, thereby making the marked cell components visible. Here too, the fluorescent light emitted by the closely adjoining dots also becomes an indistinct blur, but Hell found a simple trick to break through Abbe's barrier. This ensures that the cell components illuminated by the excitation beam do not emit fluorescence simultaneously, but sequentially. To achieve this, Hell applies a second beam (STED beam) which temporarily prevents the fluorescent markers from emitting light, i.e. it switches them off.

In his STED microscope, this second, ring-shaped "switch-off" beam is superimposed with the approx. 200 nm circular focal area of the excitation beam, where it keeps all the specimen's features dark, except those at the very centre of the ring. Only the molecules in this zone are registered. Scanning the two beams across the specimen also separates the cell components which are much closer together than 200 nm. The images are consequently yielded with fundamentally improved resolution.

Stefan Hell will receive the prize money for his research project on new fluorescent dyes which can be switched on and off with much less light. This would further increase the attainable resolution. Moreover, potentially harmful effects of the light on the observed cells and tissue could be reduced, as the intensity of the laser radiation required would be lower.

Stefan Hell has been a Director at the Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry in Göttingen since 2002. Born in Banat, Romania in 1962, he studied physics at the University of Heidelberg, where he also did his PhD. Following research stations at the EMBL in Heidelberg and the universities of Turku and Oxford, in addition to his work in Göttingen he became a division head at the German Cancer Research Centre in Heidelberg.


Researchers design a better way to discover drug candidates

 Yale researchers have devised a novel way to trick cells into getting rid of problematic proteins, a method that could help pharmaceutical companies quickly identify promising targets for new drugs.

"Our new approach offers great potential in overcoming a key stumbling block in drug development today: the validation of drug in living organisms," said Craig Crews, the Lewis B. Cullman Professor of Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology, professor of chemistry and pharmacology, member of the Yale Cancer Center and senior author of the study.

The work is reported online July 3 in the journal Nature .

Drug companies spend hundreds of millions of dollars to design small molecules that fit into folds of proteins and inhibit their function. The new technique developed by Crews and his team will help determine which of these proteins are good targets for drug development.

The research team decided to mimic the cell's natural quality control mechanisms that mark defective proteins for destruction. They created a chemical compound that resembles a partially denatured protein, a state that triggers to slice up a protein. The team then attached the compound, which Crews says resembles a "greasy knob," to proteins of interest. Using green fluorescent markers, the team found that the technique destroyed a variety of protein types in both cell culture and in live animals.

Crews said the technique has many advantages over existing target validation strategies.

"This strategy also has general utility in controlling and we believe it will undoubtedly have many new unforeseen applications," Crews said.

Provided by Yale University (news : web)

University of Reading offers alternative to animals in drug tests

Pioneering research by the University of Reading has developed a new way to test the adhesive qualities of drugs under laboratory development which could replace the current practice of using animal tissue.

The study by Reading School of Pharmacy, funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, has produced a synthetic tissue, a , which mimics the properties of mucosal tissues, such as that found in the mouth and stomach, to assess how medicines will react in the body. Mucosal tissues taken from animals are commonly used in the development phase of .

Conventionally, tablets are given orally to patients for treating various diseases. These drugs pass through the patient's digestive system which breaks down the drug into its constituting components and flushes the rest of the compound out of the body. Consequently, only a small percentage of the medicine enters the patient's circulatory system, limiting the drug's effectiveness.

However, tablets that can attach to mucosal tissue extend the time the drugs remain in the body, reducing the frequency of dosing, and also offer the possibility of targeting particular body sites. Common conditions treated by mucoadhesive drugs include angina and .

Dr. Vitaliy Khutoryanskiy, from Reading School of Pharmacy, said: "Mucosal tissues taken from animals are used by the pharmaceutical industry in the development of drugs to prolong the time that tablets are in contact with the mouth's mucosal lining. The use of in adhesion experiments doesn't always produce the best results because of their variable properties.

"The new synthetic mimicked the porcine mucosal tissues that we used in our study better than any other material we tested, and could prove a real alternative to using animal material for testing the mucoadhesive properties of future medicines."

More information: The paper, ‘Developing synthetic mucosa-mimetic hydrogels to replace animal experimentation in characterisation of mucoadhesive drug delivery systems,' is published in Soft Matter by the Royal Society of Chemistry today, at http://xlink.rsc.o … 9/C1SM05929G

Provided by University of Reading