Conventional wisdom says that Americans get more than enough protein in our diets. In fact, we’re often told that we consume too much protein. Recent studies, however, have shown us otherwise. Evidence suggests that we need to increase our protein intake for optimal health. The benefits provided by greater protein intake include improved muscle function and mobility as well as potentially preventing and treating chronic diseases. In addition to the possible benefits of boosting heart and digestive health, more protein also promotes satiety, which aids in weight maintenance. Could adding more protein to our diet help our ongoing battle against obesity?

For the last several years, we’ve seen a push toward sustainability. While we typically associate this movement with the food and clothing industries, it’s also affecting other sectors. So-called green homes have become increasingly popular, which leads to more interest in eco-friendly construction materials such as plant-based paint. Even more striking, the growing focus on decreasing our carbon footprint has encouraged people to recycle more and minimize the usage of plastic materials. In recent months, however, there’s been a noticeable demand for something that addresses all of the above. Product manufacturers have begun to seek more sustainable materials, resulting in the popularity of adopting recycled plastic materials in the construction sector. It’s a surprising combination that tends to fuel skepticism. How can you guarantee quality in materials if you use recycled plastics? Will they actually meet required specifications? The reality of the matter, however, is that recycled plastics can be just as good as virgin plastics.

In preparing to bring a biologic to market, your firm may have gone through the difficult process of selecting a cell line, type of bioreactor, nutrients and feeding scheme for your cells. You may be thinking: the rest of the process should be fairly straightforward now that I have a cell that produces my desired biologic. Unfortunately, downstream processing, which describes the processes that occur between the production of the protein therapeutic from cells to the point at which it is ready for production, presents its own unique challenges. Much can change between the presence of the biologic within a cell and its ultimate purification. Upstream processing steps are complex and the steps for downstream processing of biologics are no different. Specifically, this includes primary recovery, purification, polishing and additional formulation.

In many parts of the U.S., winter weather brings snow and though students might happily think “day off” with its onset, many others see the powdery material in less positive light. State and local agencies spend over $2.3 billion dollars in “snow and ice control operations” because snow-related weather events account for approximately 22 percent of vehicle crashes and 19 percent of fatalities. Part of the solution to the dangerous conditions caused by snow and ice has been to salt roads, which researchers believe have reduced crashes by 88 percent. However, salted roads cause damage to cars, which in turn might increase drivers’ vulnerabilities to accidents. Alternatives to salt could decrease the danger of wintery conditions.

Last August, a warehouse explosion took place in the Chinese city of Tianjin. The tragedy claimed the lives of 165 people and injured almost 800 more. In addition to the loss of life and property, the incident had other far-reaching effects. Because Tianjin is a port city, ships scheduled to dock had to be rerouted after the explosion. As a result, sites within a 10-mile radius faced a supply chain disruption. Estimates claim that the economic impact of the accident could potentially reach $8 billion. So what exactly caused the explosion? An initial investigation pointed to widespread corruption and bribery that contributed to the improper storage of hazardous materials in close proximity to residential areas. Unfortunately, a recent Chinese probe revealed the chemical safety failures went even further.

According to a report by ProPublica, pipeline accidents have killed more than 500 people, injured over 4,000 and cost the U.S. nearly $7 billion in property damages since 1986. Though this might seem relatively insignificant compared to the 32,675 deaths due to road accidents in 2014 alone, critics argue that oil and gas pipelines can and should be safer, an initiative that begins with improving our country’s aging pipelines or more immediately, the type of coatings the oil and gas industry uses to protect them.

Though botulinum neurotoxins are among the most poisonous biological substances known to man, celebrities and many others continue to spend hundreds on “Botox” injections to induce muscle paralysis and hopefully, the appearance of youth. Less well known is that Botox is used to treat a variety of medical conditions including spasms, dystonias and headaches, and also to manage pain. Botulinum toxins act by preventing the release of acetylcholine, an important neurotransmitter present at the neuromuscular junction that mediates movement, which prevents it from being released and subsequently blocks muscle contraction enabling muscle fibers to relax. But in some patients, the use of botulinum-based therapies for many years can result in the development of detectable antibodies against botulinum toxin that can lower or even abolish the drug’s therapeutic response.

Most famous for its juggernaut cell phone business, Samsung entered the life sciences arena in 2011 with the intention to become an expert in manufacturing biologics. The actions it’s taken in the time since definitely support that proclamation. From investing $2 billion to building multiple production plants, it is now the largest for-hire biologics manufacturer in the world. In addition to its contract manufacturing plans, Samsung has a division devoted to making its own biosimilars of biologics whose exclusivity periods are expired or close to expiring. This aim, in itself, would not be especially noteworthy. Other companies have adopted the same strategy. What’s particularly striking about Samsung’s biosimilar initiative is the company’s claims that it can manufacture the copycat drugs at half the cost of Western drug-makers. A stunning declaration to make in a time when many people remain uncertain about the quality, safety, and efficacy of biosimilar products despite the purported cost savings due to increased competition.

In May 2015, Brazilian authorities first noticed that a virus native to Africa, the Zika virus, was spreading in their country. What happened next, however, could not be predicted: the Zika virus was linked to thousands of children being born with microcephaly. What has authorities especially worried is many believe the outbreak will spread throughout the Americas and some countries have advised women to avoid pregnancy until 2017. The Zika virus provides an example of a virus-induced developmental toxicity, defined as any alteration in child development due to an environmental insult. However, manmade specialty chemicals and pollutants can similarly affect child development. Because specialty chemicals used in common items such as water bottles or chairs are not often tested in pregnant and breastfeeding women to determine their ability to cross the placenta, specialty chemical companies can still do more to determine the extent to which their chemicals may expose women and their fetuses to negative side effects. In order to make such progress, new laboratories and research efforts must be undertaken by specialty chemical companies, while new technologies and software can assist in the organization of this information.

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