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April 14, 1997

Chemists assemble in San Francisco for major national meeting

By Robert Irion

San Francisco's Moscone Center and surrounding hotels will host 12,000 researchers this week for the 213th national meeting of the American Chemical Society. Developmental AIDS therapies, obesity treatments, oxygenated fuels, life on Mars, the Chemical Weapons Convention, and other intriguing topics are among the highlights of the massive meeting.

More than two dozen faculty members and graduate students from UCSC will present talks or posters about their research at the meeting. The articles below offer a representative sampling--and illustrate how much of the department's research may ultimately benefit human health. (To see full versions of each article, click on the headline.)

Biochemists unveil the molecular dances of antibiotics and bacterial RNA

Scientists at UCSC have exposed the precise interactions between a common class of antibiotics and the vital machinery in bacteria that they disable, setting the stage for targeted efforts by researchers to design new and more effective drugs.

Chemists squeeze potpourri of active compounds from marine sponges

Earth's natural pharmacy is stocked with medicines derived from microbes, plants, and other denizens of the land. The ocean's waves may conceal an equally rich supply of potential drugs, some chemists believe. Although marine organisms haven't yet yielded an approved drug, promising compounds continue to surface--including an intriguing new toxin from a grape-sized sponge found in Papua New Guinea.

Partially folded proteins yield clues about how they aggregate and cause disease

Proteins are the cell's dependable workhorses. Sometimes, though, they behave like old wire hangars in the back of your closet, snarling into useless tangles. Such aggregates can trigger debilitating diseases, such as Alzheimer's and primary amyloidosis. Now, UCSC chemists are helping to unravel how those microscopic messes arise.

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