From Allan N Smith

All those involved in the writing, editing and production of Chemistry World  are to be congratulated. It is interesting, accurate and comprehensive; I look forward to reading it every month when it gives me a good few hours of informative pleasure.

A N Smith CChem FRSC 
Cootamundra, Australia


From Barry Pric e

Merck Serono may well have agreed a multi-year deal with the US biotech Archemix to develop aptamer-based cancer therapeutics (Chemistry World, July 2007, p18). But the fruits of their endeavours will not be the first such therapeutics as stated in your article. The UK biotech firm, Antisoma, has an aptamer called AS1411, which is already showing promise in clinical trials for cancer. 

In a Phase I trial in patients with a range of advanced cancers, signs of anti-tumour activity were seen in some patients who were given AS1411, including two cases of substantial tumour shrinkage. Antisoma now plans to test the drug in larger Phase II studies in patients with renal cancer and leukaemia. AS1411 is by far the most advanced aptamer drug for cancer and I am sure Merck Serono will be following its progress keenly. 

B Price FRSC
Chairman, Antisoma plc Buntingford, UK


From R A S Sampson

Your article on the possible demise of ICI (Chemistry World, August 2007, p17) overlooked the fact that a synthetic anti-malarial was available from France before 1940, when the occupation of that country prevented its importation. I was then involved in the hasty development of Mepacrine by May & Baker Ltd, a subsidiary of the French manufacturer. By the end of 1940 the pilot plant was producing 200kg per month while the main plant was being developed for the 13-stage synthesis. Soon after this, 2000kg a month were produced until the end of the war. 

R A S Sampson CChem FRSC
Woodbridge, UK


From Edward Behrman

Your article on the chemistry of quitting (Chemistry World,  July 2007, p44) quotes Peter Hajek as saying that cytisine is very cheap. ’Cheap’ is certainly a relative term, but my current Aldrich catalogue asks $771 per 250mg or about $3 per mg. Is this ’very cheap’ in the world of drugs? 

E J Behrman MRSC
Columbus, Ohio, US

Ed: Hajek’s assertion was that cytisine is cheap in relation to other smoking cessation drugs, rather than the absolute price for the pure powder.


From Peter F Pascoe

I read with interest and deep satisfaction the article ’Molecular beanpoles wrapped up’ (Chemistry World, August 2007, p27) describing the work of John Gladysz and colleagues, who had formed rigid double helixes by two identical mobile carbon chains wrapping around a molecular wire. I similarly found that by adding linear polyethylamine to mobile polypeptides molecules, several rigid helical structures develop, each combining two identical peptide sequences that surround one polyethylamine molecule.  

Such structures that rigidly fix mobile (cyclomeric) peptides by a linear (orectomeric) chain form with considerable energy gain.  

Rigid orectomer/cyclomer complexes are also the basis of immune reactions. Numerous cited observations and experiments confirm the autospecific bonding of identical peptide sequences in immune reactions, and disagree with the theory that invokes complementary bonds of sterically-fitting determinants.  

I realize that biochemists and in particular immunologists may not be very happy learning that their traded premises of phantom immunglobulin molecules reacting with determinants to be on antigen molecules is totally false.  

A consolation will be that by accepting autospecific reactions as a basic premise everything will fall into line and novel methods may arise. 

P Pascoe CChem, FRSC
Runkel-Arfurt, Germany 


From Carsten Christophersen

In the interesting article ’At the top of the cascade’ (Chemistry World, August 2007, p50) an illustration show the alkaloid (-)-flustramine B included in a photograph of ’the seaweed Flustra foliacea’.  

Actually, the organism is a bryozoan or moss animal, which are colonial animals with more than 4000 species. The individuals are clearly visible in the picture. 

C Christophersen
Copenhagen, Denmark


From John Rees

I share Tony Milward’s feeling of puzzlement towards the scientific rationale behind some current approaches to the isolation of carbon dioxide from the environment (Chemistry World, August 2007, p40). 

Milward notes that ’only the long-term burial of coal, oil and limestone provide a stable reduction of atmospheric carbon dioxide levels.’ Yet the main emphasis in current research into carbon sequestration is the disposal of the gas to exhausted oil and gas reservoirs.  

Proponents of this technique can point to the stability of this arrangement over geological timescales before the hydrocarbons were extracted.  

However, Milward notes that carbon dioxide could react with silicates in rocks: at first glance, this suggests that in reservoirs containing large amounts of carbon dioxide, the containment of the gas provided by, for example, a clay cap would eventually be lost due to the degradation of the latter by the former. 

Some of the carbon dioxide would then escape and potentially reappear in the environment. 

Oxford, UK


From Norman Groocock

I wonder if I am alone in having some misgivings about the plan to store carbon dioxide underground. Having polluted surface soil, the seas and the atmosphere, are we sure we want to put our waste products into deep underground strata? We know that moist carbon dioxide erodes carbonate and silicate rocks - I live in Derbyshire and have the caves around here to demonstrate the former effect. Suppose we remove the abilities of underground rocks to support those above, are we likely to get seabed subsidence and if so would such events trigger tsunamis for future generations to curse us for? 

N Groocock MRSC 
Bakewell, UK

Ed: You can read more about these issues in a special report on carbon capture and storage in the October 2007 issue of  Chemistry World, which will be devoted to the theme of sustainable energy generation.


From Peter B Baker

Ken Mason (Chemistry World, August 2007, p40) was clearly more industrious than I in performing reactions that required cooking for 16 hours (ie leave it overnight). 

Most of mine were required to be left in the fridge for 60 hours to complete separation (ie  a trip from Cambridge to London for the weekend).  

P B Baker CChem FRSC
London, UK