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The Application of Enzymes In Medicine

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Introduction

THE APPLICATION OF ENZYMES IN MEDICINE Enzymes are biological catalysts which speed up chemical reactions by lowering the activation energy (the minimum amount of energy required for a reaction to take place). Enzymes are proteins which have a tertiary structure and they are very specific- only the correct substrate can combine with the active site of the correct enzyme, thereby producing an enzyme substrate complex. "They are also highly specific, which means fewer unwanted side-effects and by-products in the production process," (1). Furthermore, enzymes are biodegradable and the "ability of enzymes to catalyse specific chemical reactions at body temperature makes them useful tools in the commercial world," (7). This is because less energy is required which means they are relatively cheap. Enzymes are used in medicine in a variety of ways. I will look at some of the main ways in which enzymes are used. The process of genetic engineering involves the use of many enzymes in cutting, modifying and joining the DNA. Restriction enzymes (restriction endonucleases) "are enzymes that cut DNA at specific sites," which "cut bonds in the middle of the polynucleotide chain," (2). ...read more.

Middle

They are used commonly to aid digestion. Supplements of natural amylase, lipase and proteins are given. Those who have lactose intolerance and cannot ingest milk due to a lack of the enzyme lactase are given lactase supplements. Lactase converts lactose into glucose and galactose. This prevents people from getting stomach upsets, (5). Enzyme supplements are also beneficial to those who suffer from conditions such as cystic fibrosis, Gaucher's disease and celiac disease which cause enzyme deficiency, (6). Therapeutic enzymes (enzymes used as medicines) are used "usually to replace enzyme deficiencies," (5). They are used as blood clotting factors to treat haemoplilia or as the opposite, for example proteases are used to degrade fibrin as they "can prevent the formation of dangerous blood clots," (5). Fibrin clots after heart attacks, can also be removed using the enzyme urokinase, (4, pg. 81). Proteases are used quite widely in medicine as they are also used as anti inflammatory reagents. These enzymes reduce inflammation due to the "dissolution of soft fibrin and to the clearance of proteinaceous debris found in inflammatory exudates," (8). ...read more.

Conclusion

The specificity of enzymes is also a beneficial factor in this area because. This is shown by a manager for biocatalysis and biotransformations who says, "If you want to modify one specific alcohol functionality among five others to get a new product, you can do that with an appropriate enzyme, because of its selectivity. With organic chemistry, you would have to re-synthesize the whole molecule," (10). This shows how unique enzymes are in their specificity and selectivity and also how they simplify processes compared to other methods. In conclusion, I have found out that enzymes are used broadly in medicine and are essential in many areas, for example genetic engineering would be impossible without the use of enzymes and cancer would not be curable without enzymes. Without enzymes, medicine would not be as advanced as it is as they are used in many treatments and it would be difficult to make progression. Research indicates that the full potential of enzymes has not yet been discovered as new discoveries are still being made. 1 ...read more.

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