RESOURCES: Nature's Palette

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Science  03 Aug 2001:
Vol. 293, Issue 5531, pp. 767
DOI: 10.1126/science.293.5531.767b

Diverse and ubiquitous, the multihued molecules known as porphyrins have been called “the colors of life.” They dye your blood crimson, for instance, and make plants green. Porphynet, created by engineer Daniel Dupre of the French science agency CNRS in Paris, introduces this family of colorful molecules that includes chlorophyll and heme, the iron-containing core of hemoglobin.

Offerings include a Web text on iron and heme metabolism, a roundup of porphyrin researchers, and a listing of relevant recent papers. Linked sites investigate possible new applications for porphyrins, such as antirust coatings, components of molecular computers, and light-activated drugs that slay cancer cells. A bevy of links explores porphyrias, a group of diseases marked by faulty porphyrin metabolism. Although rare, porphyrias may have changed history. Some scientists—and the movie The Madness of King George—attribute the bizarre behavior of England's King George III to a form of porphyria that can cause disorientation and psychosis.

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