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A brief review on biochemistry

  • What is biochemistry?

    Biochemistry is the study of structure, composition, constituents, and chemical reactions of substances found in living systems. Biochemistry governs all living organisms and living processes, it is the science in which chemistry is applied to the study of living organisms or it is the chemical study of atoms and molecules which comprise living organisms.

    Biochemistry is a separate branch of science which combines biology with physical, organic and inorganic chemistry.

    Living organisms should be able:

    • To transform matter and energy into different forms
    • To show response to changes in their environment
    • To show growth and reproduction

    All living organisms undergo changes/biochemical reactions due to large organic compounds, such compounds are called macromolecules.

    Biochemical reactions are chemical reactions that take place inside the cells of living things. The sum of all the biochemical reactions in an organism is called metabolism.

    The biochemical reactions are:

    • Oxidation: Oxidation is the loss of electrons.
    • Reduction: Reduction is the gain of electrons.
    • Hydrolysis: Hydrolysis is the chemical process in which a molecule is cleaved into two parts by the addition of a water molecule.
    • Phosphorolysis: Phosphorolysis is the splitting of a bond by the addition of phosphoric acid to a compound.
    • Decarboxylation: Decarboxylation is the loss of carbon dioxide.
    • Deamination: Deamination is the removal of amino group.
    • Transamination:Transamination is the transfer of amino group from one molecule to another.
    • History of biochemistry

    The history of biochemistry spans approximately 400years. Although the term “biochemistry” seems to have been first used in 1882, it is generally accepted that the word "biochemistry" was first proposed in 1903 by Carl Neuberg, a German chemist.

    Biochemistry is applied to medicine, dentistry, veterinary medicine, food technology, agriculture, physiology, pharmacology, microbiology, clinical chemistry and many more.

    Biochemistry is linked with every way of human life.

    What types of molecules do biochemists study?

    The principal types of biological molecules or biomolecules are:

    1. Proteins
    2. Carbohydrates
    3. Nucleic acids
    4. Lipids

    Most of these biomolecules are basically polymers which consist of repeating structural units called monomers.

    Discipline related to Biochemistry

    Biochemistry is closely related to other biological sciences that deal with molecules.

    There is considerable overlap between these disciplines: Molecular Genetics, Pharmacology, Molecular Biology, and Chemical Biology.

    Biochemists have a choice of fields of application that include:

    1. Applications in medicine, dentistry, veterinary medicine, biochemistry spills over into physiology, microbiology, toxicology/pharmaceuticals and clinical chemistry, in these areas a biochemist may investigate the mechanism of a drug action.

    2. Genetic research is a field in which many experts in biochemistry take part; the current research regarding stem cells has led to very important information about chemical processes that essentially cause cell death called apoptosis.Genetics is the study of the effect of genetic differences on organisms. Often this can be inferred by the absence of a normal component (e.g one gene).

    3. Biotechnology, the use of living things to make products, is another field in which the biochemistry expert thrives.

    4. The food industry attracts biochemists, in studies regarding food; biochemists might work in a number of practical ways, such as:

    Product development of foods that is least likely to cause weight gain, or developing foods that have highly beneficial qualities.

    5. Most wineries and breweries use biochemistry frequently to evaluate yeasts and acids used to make alcohol.

    6. Experts in biochemistry might also use their skills to make chemical products like herbicides or pesticides.

    7. Many work in small research labs that may study specific things or analyze materials for contaminants.

    For example: Testing water and food for live parasitic agents is a valued act of biochemistry.

    These and many more others are the areas in which a biochemist can apply their skills.

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