Research Report '04
 MU Office of Research Home page. Year In Review. Technology Development. Sponsored Research. Instruction & Public Service. 2003 & Beyond.

Annual Report 2004 Query Tool

Investigators Continue on Path to 'Higher Level of Excellence'

Long Strands in Small Packages

New Insights Into an Old Reaction

Developed for Dogs, New 'Tissue Scaffolds' Offer Hope for Hobbled Humans

Deaton Named MU Chancellor

Gifts Revitalize Red Campus Research

Student Scholars Gain Smart New Space

Five MU Faculty Named AAAS Fellows

Expenditures and Awards

New Insights Into an Old Reaction

Rainer Glaser, a professor of chemistry at MU, and doctoral student Zhengyu Wu have demonstrated that the diazonium hydrolysis process -- described by Glaser as the "poster boy of physical organic chemistry" -- is actually accomplished via a single reaction. Their research was funded by the National Institutes of Health.

Diazonium Ion Hydrolysis: MU chemistry professor Rainer Glaser explains why his research on diazonium ions is rewriting the chemistry textbooks."I've thought about it for 20 years and always felt there was something wrong with it," Glaser told journalists recently. "Now it makes sense, and there's not one experiment I cannot explain with this new mechanism. This will be common knowledge for chemists and very influential because we will just know better how the reactions occur."

Diazonium ions are important intermediates in the formation of azo dyes, the artificial yellows, reds and browns found in a variety of processed foods. The implications of Glaser and Wu's discovery, however, go far beyond, say, making hot dogs appear more palatable.

Most important, Glaser says, is how the finding will affect current thinking about DNA connectivity. Of chief interest is nitrosation, the process in which amines, ammonia derivatives, react with nitric oxide or nitrous acid to create diazonium ions within DNA molecules.

Because the diazonium ions are not stable, they can react with other materials, causing so-called cross-link formations in DNA's two strands.

Such cross-linking inhibits the ability of the strands to unravel and reform during cell division. The malfunction damages cells and could perhaps even cause them to become cancerous, the researchers say.

"Our work suggests that there might be other cross-links that have not yet been discovered," says Glaser. "By knowing what happens to DNA, we can learn how it can be damaged. Once you know that, it's the first step in finding how to fix it."

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