The Application of Enzymes in Industry and Medicine.
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The Application of Enzymes in Industry and Medicine. Enzymes are Biological catalysts, allowing the chemical reactions of metabolism to take place, controlling the speed of the reaction. They are found in all living cells and are divided into two main groups, intracellular and extra cellular. Intracellular are found and work inside the cells, therefore are secreted inside the cell membrane, from where they control metabolism. The cells will also produce the extracellular, but these only achieve their full affect outside of the cell, so are secreted outside the cell membrane. Examples of extracellular enzymes include digestion enzymes such as pepsin. Enzymes are complex globular proteins. Their long peptide chains of amino acids linked by peptide bonds are wound, folded and bonded into a precise 3D structure, owing their activity to this particular shape. They are compounds of high molecular weight. See Figure 1. (www.worthington-biochem.com) Hydrogen, ionic, and disulphide bonds as well as hydrophobic interactions all hold the chain in its three-dimensional spherical form. Each enzyme has a unique shape. The precise shape of the active site (the place at which the substrate binds) is so because the enzyme is specific to one substrate-specificity. Thus meaning that the active site of the enzyme has a distinct chemical configuration to which only one substrate has the correct complimentary chemical configuration. This is known as the 'lock and Key' hypothesis. An enzyme works by combining with the substrate molecules to form an enzyme-substrate complex. With their various bonds held in relation with each other, the substrate molecule then reacts to form an enzyme-product complex. This then splits into the unchanged enzyme and a product. The enzyme is then free to be used elsewhere. This can be repeated causing no change to the enzyme, and as often as 100,000/second. A more up to date version of this hypothesis is the induced fit theory. It is similar, but doesn't require such a precise connection being made between the enzyme and substrate at the active site.
However allergic reactions to the detergents within factories caused a withdrawal in the 1970's in the USA. An inert wax was then added to prevent the fine dust particles becoming air born. The liquids and tablets also overcame the problem. The main enzyme activity in biological laundry detergents is protease ( subtilisin, from the bacterium bacillus subtilis, was developed by Denmark to withstand hot conditions) which acts on organic stains such as grass, blood, egg and human sweat and other protein residues. However, it has become more common in recent years to include a "cocktail" of enzyme activities including lipases and amylases. Lipases are effective on stains resulting from fatty products such as oils and fats whilst amylases help remove starchy food deposits. This is where thermostable enzymes are very adequate because of the wide range of temperatures, pH extremes and the presence of high levels of phosphate found in some detergents. More recently, colour enhancing and "anti-bobbling" washing powders have been developed which contain cellulases. It is thought that the mode of action of such cellulases is to remove detached cellulose fibrils, which cause a progressive dulling of the colour as dirt is trapped on the rough surface of the fabric. Enzymes have become particularly important in products developed for the pre-soaking or spot application onto laundry. In these cases soils are loosened by enzyme action prior to the main wash in a detergent. Such products result in reduced detergent costs and the ability to save energy by lower temperature washing. The use of enzymes in automatic dishwashing detergents is also becoming popular. Typical enzyme activities are protease and amylase to remove food particles. Such new products are more environmentally friendly as they contain less bleaching agents and phosphates. The Food and Drink industry is another application upon which enzymes are relied heavily. Enzymes can be used to modify raw materials and aid in the processing or cooking stages.
The process even saves on water, one of nature's most precious resources. When using enzymes to get the stonewash look, there is no need for several rinsing processes to get rid of the stones. The advantages of enzyme technology over whole organism technology is primarily that there is no loss of substrate from the increase in biomas, such as when yeast is used to ferment sugar to alcohol some of the sugar is wasted as it is converted to cell wall material and photoplasm during growth. Secondly, elimination of wasteful side reactions takes place when using enzyme technology over using the whole organism. Whole organisms may convert some of the substrate into irrelevant compounds or even contain enzymes for degrading the desired product into something else. So single enzymes are more predictable and more specific. In whole organisms, the enzymes may have a higher optimum temperature than the organism so would not be working at its full potential. Enzyme technology would allow the enzyme to work at is own optimum conditions and at maximum efficiency. Finally purifying the product is easier when as an enzyme, not as an organism because it can be immobilised more efficiently. Also an enzyme contaminates a product less than an organism. (Mr Price class biochemistry notes) In conclusion it is simple to see that life today as we know would be extremely different without the use of enzymes, Infact we would not survive as they are used each day by our bodies to perform important functions. However in regard to industry and medicine the role of enzymes is not a vital, but still huge. They are used in many of the treatments administered to patients and much more. They also play a major role in industry, becoming over the years a billion pound market. Although they go unnoticed and unadvertised as important tools, they are owed great appreciation and gratitude. This is highlighted in the words of Dr. Pavels Ivdra " Enzymes the unsung heroes" (Medical journal Article-Dr.
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