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Leafy Greens Help Fight Toxins
Laboratory researchers Graham Bench and Ken Turteltaub found that giving an individual a small dose of chlorophyll or chlorophyllin—found in green leafy vegetables such as spinach, broccoli, and kale—could reverse the effects of aflatoxin poisoning. Aflatoxin is a potent, naturally occurring carcinogenic mycotoxin that is associated with the growth of two types of mold: Aspergillus flavus and Aspergillus parasiticus. Food and food crops most prone to aflatoxin contamination include corn and corn products, cottonseed, peanuts and peanut products, tree nuts, and milk. Bench and Turteltaub, working with colleagues from Oregon State University and industrial partner Cephalon, Inc., also found that green leafy vegetables have chemopreventive potential.

The team initially gave each of three volunteers a small dose of carbon-14 labeled aflatoxin (less than the amount found in a peanut butter sandwich). In subsequent experiments, the patients received a small amount of chlorophyll or chlorophyllin concomitantly with the same dose of carbon-14-labeled aflatoxin. Then using Livermore’s Center for Accelerator Mass Spectrometry, the team measured the amount of aflatoxin in the volunteers after each microdosing regimen and determine whether the chlorophyll or chlorophyllin reduced the amount of aflatoxin absorbed.

“The chlorophyll and chlorophyllin treatment each significantly reduced aflatoxin absorption and bioavailability,” says Bench. Lower blood and urine levels of aflatoxin following these interventions are presumptive reflections of diminished carcinogen absorption and likely reduced DNA damage in liver cells and other target cells. “This study was unique among prevention trials because we could administer a microdose of radio-labeled aflatoxin to assess the pharmacodynamic actions of the carcinogen directly in humans,” says Turteltaub. The research appeared in the December 2009 issue of Cancer Prevention Research.
Contact: Graham Bench (925) 423-5155 ( or
Kenneth Turteltaub (925) 423-8152 (

Researchers Garner Early Career Awards
Lawrence Livermore’s Greg Bronevetsky of the Center for Applied Scientific Computing and Vsevolod Soukhanovskii of the Fusion Energy Program have both won an Early Career Research Program Award from the Department of Energy (DOE). Bronevetsky and Soukhanovskii are among 69 scientists nationwide from a pool of about 1,750 applicants who will receive research grants in the amount of $500,000 per year for
five years. The grants are funded under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The DOE program is designed to bolster the nation’s scientific workforce by providing support to exceptional researchers during the crucial early career years, when many scientists do their most formative work.

Bronevetsky will focus his research on reliable high-performance peta- and exascale computing. He is dedicating his early scientific career to ensuring that the increasing power, size, and complexity of the supercomputers critical to national security research do not come at the expense of their reliability. Soukhanovskii will conduct research in the Advanced High Heat Flux Diverter Program on the National Spherical Torus Experiment at Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory. Soukhanovskii’s research is part of a collaboration between Princeton and the Laboratory’s Fusion Energy Program that is funded by DOE’s Office of Fusion Energy Sciences.
Contact: Greg Bronevetsky (925) 424-5756 ( or Vsevolod Soukhanovskii (609) 243-2064 (

First Measurement of the Age of Cometary Material
Although comets are thought to be some of the oldest, most primitive bodies in the solar system, new research on the comet Wild 2 indicates that inner solar system material was transported to the comet-forming region at least 1.7 million years after the formation of the oldest solar system solids. The research by Laboratory geochemist Jennifer Matzel and colleagues provides the first constraint on the age of cometary material from a known comet.

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s Stardust mission to Wild 2, which launched in 1999, was designed around the premise that comets preserve pristine remnants of materials that helped form the solar system. In 2006, the Stardust spacecraft ejected a capsule that parachuted down to the Utah desert, delivering the first samples from a comet. New analyses of comet remnants show that most of the material formed close to the Sun and then migrated outward to be captured by the comet millions of years after the solar system began taking shape. The comet remnants captured by Stardust consist of materials formed at high temperatures, including calcium–aluminum inclusions (CAIs), the oldest objects formed in the solar nebula. Matzel and her team dated the formation of a small particle called Coki by searching for decay products of a radioactive isotope of aluminum.

“The inner solar system material in Wild 2 underscores the importance of radial transport of material over large distances in the early solar nebula,” says Matzel. The team’s findings are published in the February 25, 2010, edition of Science Express. Livermore team members include Matzel, Hope Ishii, Ian Hutcheon, John Bradley, Peter Weber, and Nick Teslich. Colleagues include scientists from the University of Washington, the University of California at Los Angeles, and the Smithsonian Institution.
Contact: Jennifer Matzel (925) 422-0051 (

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