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CURRENT NEWS-March 16, 2005

Research

Highlights of chemical society national meeting in San Diego, March 13-17

Contact: Michael Bernstein

March 16, 2005

SAN DIEGO -- An antioxidant mixture that may help prevent skin cancer, efforts to genetically engineer bacteria for the mass production of antibiotics, and novel gene therapy vectors that employ the herpes simplex virus to help fight chronic pain and brain cancer are among the new research topics addressed at the 229th national meeting of the American Chemical Society, the worldfs largest scientific society, in San Diego, March 13-17. The meeting, which features approximately 10,000 research presentations, includes a special Presidential symposium on the changing face of chemistry. Other topics include life in extreme environments, new materials for faster and cheaper computer memory and an unusual study that supports the long-held belief that marine mussels, such as oysters and clams, may act as aphrodisiacs.

Topic is described below:

Wednesday, March 16

Study supports belief that clams, oysters may boost libido -- For centuries, marine mollusks such as clams, oysters and scallops have been thought to act as aphrodisiacs when eaten raw. Now, a team of researchers from the U.S. and Italy says they may have found, for the first time, a scientific basis to support this belief. They analyzed the chemical composition of tissues from a group of mollusks commonly consumed in Mediterranean countries and found that they contain D-aspartic acid and NMDA (N-methyl-D-aspartate), two compounds which were shown in previous animal studies to stimulate the release of hormones, including testosterone and estrogen, that are involved in heightened sexual activity. (MEDI 401, Wednesday, March 16, 6:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m., Convention Center, Sails Pavilion)

MEDI 401 - Do marine mollusks possess aphrodisiacal properties?

Raul A. Mirza1, Jean-Joseph Poisson1, George H. Fisher2, Antimo D'Aniello3, Patrizia Spinelli3, and Gabrielle Ferrandino3. (1) School of Natural and Health Sciences, Barry University, 11300 NE 2nd Ave., Miami Shores, FL 33161, (2) Department of Chemistry, Barry University, Miami, FL 33161, (3) Laboratory of Neurobiology, Stazione Zoologica, "Anton Dohrn", Villa Communale I, Naples, 80121, Italy

For centuries marine bivalves have been thought to possess aphrodisiacal properties. Recent evidence has demonstrated that D-aspartic acid (D-Asp) and N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) are endogenously present in the endocrine tissues of rats and incur a natural role in the release of hormones that are involved in reproductive activity, e.g., luteinizing hormone (LH), follicle stimulating hormone (FSH), progesterone and testosterone.

We sought to determine the concentrations of D-Asp and NMDA in the most consumed Mediterranean bivalve mollusks. These were homogenized in 70% methanol then purified by anion exchange and passed through a C18 Sep-Pak. D-Asp and NMDA were then determined by the use of two sensitive methods: (i) colorimetric methods based on the determination of oxaloacetate and hydrogen peroxide obtained from the oxidation of D-Asp and NMDA with D-aspartate oxidase (D-AspO) and (ii) the fluorometric high pressure liquid chromatography (HPLC) method in combination with D-AspO to determine D-Asp and NMDA individually.

We have determined the presence of D-Asp and NMDA in the following bivalve mollusks: Mytilus galloprovincialis, Tapes decussates, Chamalea gallina and Donax trunculus. Since D-Asp and NMDA have been proven to act on the release of sexual hormones and since prior investigations have established a correlation of D-Asp and NMDA with testosterone, estradiol and sexual activity, we believe it plausible that the presence of D-Asp and NMDA in these mollusks could correlate with aphrodisiacal properties of these mollusks. Supported by NIH MIRT Grant TW00033, Barry University and Stazione Zoologica "Anton Dohrn".

American Chemical Society - www.chemistry.org

CURRENT NEWS-March 25, 2005

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