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Have the uses of enzymes in industry and medicine been a benefit to society?

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Introduction

Have the uses of enzymes in industry and medicine been a benefit to society? Enzymes are biological catalysts and they speed up most chemical reactions without altering the final product. They are extremely important as without them most reactions in cells would be so slow that they would not really go ahead at all. Enzymes are proteins and they generally only work with one substrate. They work by providing an active site the same shape as the substrate molecules, they bind with the substrate and cause the reaction to speed up. At high temperatures (above 40�C) their reaction rates slow and above 60�C the reaction stops completely because they are deactivated by the heat (denatured). However usually an enzyme is not destroyed by the reaction it causes and can therefore be used again. (6) Enzymes have a great number of uses from food processing to helping with medical diagnoses and treatments - for example enzymes are present in biological detergents as they help break down stains and enzymes are also important in the fermentation process used to produce antibiotics. ...read more.

Middle

Also enzymes are used to remove wool from sheepskins preserving the wool which is of use. Here again enzymes are seen to have a positive environmental impact. (1) In cheese making the use of the genetically engineered enzyme Chymosin for the coagulation or setting of cheese has meant that cheese makers no longer need to rely on animal rennet taken from the stomachs of calves. This means that animal rights activists have less objection to this process of cheese making and also that some vegetarians can accept chymosin as an alternative to animal rennet. Chymosin is made by using bioengineering from calf cells, but some people do not agree with eating bio engineered foods. In some cases labelling is unclear and coagulating enzymes may be just called 'enzymes' or not mentioned at all on labels, making it difficult for consumers to tell what has been used in the processing of the cheese. (3) Many people may prefer not to buy cheese made using this process at all because there is not really enough understood about possible long term effects of using a genetically engineered enzyme, ...read more.

Conclusion

Many diabetics rely on these as a way of monitoring their own condition. (5) Another way enzymes are used is in the treatment of lactose intolerance, which is a condition where people cannot tolerate milk or dairy products and usually develops with age. These people can be treated with lactase supplements to help the digest lactose by converting it into glucose and therefore reduce stomach upsets. (2) In conclusion enzymes are now widely used in industry and in medicine for both diagnosis and treatment. In many cases in industry enzymes have replaced the need for less environmentally friendly products or procedures and have therefore made a significant contribution to the preservation of the environment, for example the energy savings from use of biological washing powders. However the use of genetically modified enzymes in the food industry is seen by some as unknown territory in terms of the future implications for human health. In medicine enzymes are important in the treatment and diagnosis of patients and their uses are continually expanding. It is clear that society has benefited in many ways from the uses of enzymes in industry and medicine. ...read more.

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