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The Alchemist learns of low-allergy wines could one day be possible thanks to the discovery of glycoproteins in the tipple that seem to trigger the sniffles and headaches in susceptible drinkers. In analytical news true blood is spotted using infrared and one of the most complex small molecules is approved for treating metastatic breast cancer. In the world of agriculture a new discovery could point the way to boosting a crop plant's defenses against pests without pesticides and a butterfly effect is observed in boron compounds that could lead chemists to the elusive boron-boron triple bond. Finally, more than forty years of dedication to polymerization earns Marino Xanthos a major award.

Researchers may have identified the culprit in wine that causes headaches, a stuffy nose, skin rash and other allergic responses in some people. Almost one in ten wine drinkers suffer allergy symptoms caused by their favorite tipple but just one percent respond adversely the sulfite additives, the remainder suffer because of a previously unknown component of wine. The team, led by Giuseppe Palmisano of University of Southern Denmark in Odense, has now identified 28 glycoproteins in Italian wine that could be to blame. The discovery opens to door to development of wine-making processes that minimize formation of the culprit glycoproteins and offer consumers low-allergenic wines.

US chemists have developed an analytical technique - multimode imaging - that can reveal bloodstains, which could be a boon for crime scene investigation. Detecting blood is a tough call for forensic investigators, despite the claims of TV fiction. Now, a team at the University of South Carolina has developed a replacement for the standard, but toxic, luminol test for bloodstains. The new infrared technique uses filters to detect bloodstains that have been scrubbed "clean". It is sensitive to one part in 100 of blood in water. Follow-up DNA testing can then demonstrate provenance. The same system can spot the difference between others stains caused by household bleach, rust, soda or coffee and might have industrial applications too.

A complex drug originally derived from a marine sponge has been approved by the US Food & Drug Administration for the treatment of metastatic breast cancer. Halaven (eribulin mesylate) will be used for patients who have received two doses of chemotherapy and are in the late stages of the disease. Halaven is a synthetic form of a chemotherapeutically active compound derived from the sea sponge Halichondria okadai and when injected acts as a microtubule inhibitor to retard cancer cell replication.

Insect attack against a plant often triggers the release of noxious volatile organic compounds that deter the pest. Now, US researchers have demonstrated that the enzyme involved in releasing two distinct volatiles, the homoterpenes -- DMNT (4,8-dimethylnona-1,3,7-triene) and TMTT (4,8,12-trimethyltrideca-1,3,7,11-tetraene) is the same P450 enzyme used in oxidizing processes in plants, animals and bacteria. "We are excited to finally have elucidated the biosynthesis of these common plant volatiles," explains Dorothea Tholl of Virginia Tech who worked with colleagues in Germany. "The P450 protein was a long-missing enzymatic link in the formation of homoterpenes." Such insights offer the possibility of modulating a crop plant's defenses through genetic engineering and so reducing the need for pesticide sprays.

Researchers have used X-ray crystallography to show how a butterfly-shaped boron compound has an intense electron distribution in its B2H2 core that is stabilized by exterior bulky ligands. The structure might one day lead chemists to the elusive boron-boron triple bond. Kohei Tamao and colleagues from the RIKEN Advanced Science Institute in Wako and Kyoto University, Japan, have isolated the first stable diborane molecule with butterfly-shaped B-H-B bonds and a boron-boron link with characteristics reminiscent of a triple bond. The work offers new insights into the workings of 3-center, 2-electron boron interactions.

Irish and German researchers have discovered that the soil bacterium Pseudomonas putida can eat pyrolyzed oil from waste polystyrene to produce the biodegradable polymers PHA (polyhydroxyalkanoates). Kevin O'Connor of University College Dublin and colleagues there and in Germany have demonstrated that an engineered microbial strain can convert petroleum-based plastic waste into a reusable biodegradable form. O'Connor suggests that a similar process might be used to convert other types of discarded plastics into PHA. PHA is commonly used in medical materials and devices and for making plastic kitchenware, packaging film and other disposable items. It is resistant to hot liquids, greases and oils, but unlike polystyrene, it readily breaks down in soil, water, septic systems and backyard composts.