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The application of enzymes in industry and medicine.

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Introduction

The application of enzymes in industry and medicine Enzymes are proteins, made up of polypeptide chains of amino acids. They are biological catalysts to regulate the speed of many processes, and are used in industry and medicine, but in different ways. Enzymes are globular proteins, with their structure held together by hydrogen bonds and can therefore be denatured easily if these bonds are broken. This is because their structure is very important in the way they work. They have an active site, which is the area in which substrates are broken down into product molecules, and if this is altered the enzyme can no longer function. Immobilised enzymes are attached to inert insoluble materials so that the enzymes can be held in place during the reaction, removed and reused. Enzymes are used in industry because they speed up reactions producing products which can be used as they are, or can be used to make different products. ...read more.

Middle

An enzyme in yeast, Zymase, can break down simple sugars into ethanol and carbon dioxide: C6H12O6 --> 2C2H5OH + 2CO2 This process also makes other products, so that the combination made only contains around 10% ethanol. This is distilled in various different processes to give a solution of 95% ethanol concentration. More than half of industrially used alcohol, excluding beverage alcohol is produced in this way. Some people and cats are lactose intolerant, and therefore cannot drink normal milk because of its lactose content. Lactose-free milk can be produced by using immobilised enzymes. The enzyme lactase is used, and is immobilised into "beads" by mixing the enzyme with sodium alginate solution, then dropping this into calcium chloride solution to form the beads. The beads are then placed in a column and normal milk is run through the column and collected through a tap. The lactose is converted into glucose and galactose. ...read more.

Conclusion

Asparaginase does not affect normal cells functions but creates a state of starvation in the tumour cells because it stops the amount of extra L-asparagine being available to them. This treatment is around 60% successful in a study of 6000 patients who had the enzyme intravenously administered. Blood clotting enzymes are used to treat haemophilia and cause the blood to clot, and proteases are used in blood thinning treatments to prevent dangerous blood clots. It is thought that enzymes may be able to treat genetic diseases but at present it is not possible to easily target specific cells that need treatment, for example mucus cells in the lungs of cystic fibrosis sufferers could be targeted and made to stop producing excess mucus. Without enzymes, many products would be impossible to manufacture, or the processes used to make them would be made much more costly and less simple to use. The use of enzymes in medicine is incredibly important in treating many diseases, which could otherwise be fatal. ...read more.

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