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The Use of Enzymes in Medicine

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ESSAY- Skills I & J The Use of Enzymes in Medicine Enzymes are biological catalysts, which speed up the rate of a chemical reaction. They speed up the reaction by lowering the activation energy required to begin the reaction. Enzymes work at their optimum rates in specific temperatures and pH ranges. Enzymes are globular proteins with a tertiary structure, which determines the shape of its active site so they can only fit to one substrate molecule. When the active site of an enzyme and a substrate bind together, an enzyme- substrate complex is formed. As enzymes are never used up in a reaction this allows them to have several applications particularly in medicine. Enzymes can be used to detect specific changes, their properties allow them to be used in medicine for analysing, diagnosing and treating purposes. The most common use of enzymes in medicine is in biosensors. The biosensor used to detect diabetes is the most generic example of a commercial biosensor. Diabetes is a disorder when individuals are unable to produce enough insulin, which breaks down glucose. ...read more.


'Restriction enzymes are proteins that cut DNA molecules at precise sites to produce clearly defined fragments. It is this precision that allows chosen genes to be cut away from other genes so that they can be isolated'. (Ashall, 1994). The genes are then inserted into vectors, found in bacteria. The bacterium replicates itself to produces load of copies of the useful gene. This shows restriction enzymes are a very useful tool for molecular biology and are as much a part of DNA technology research as a saw is to carpentry. Restriction enzymes have not just proved to be beneficial in disorders lacking certain proteins but also proved to cure skin cancer. In 2004 a miracle took place for Mark Origer of Wisconsin. Mark had been diagnosed with skin cancer and was soon going to die. However a few months later his tumours had gone and he was now free from cancer. It was genetic engineering that saved his life and in particular restriction enzymes. Cells were taken from his body, and new genes were inserted using the enzyme creating T-cells, which could recognise and destroy the cancerous cells, they were then reinserted into his body. ...read more.


(http://www.webmd.com/digestive-disorders/Alanine-Aminotransferase-ALT). When the blood is tested it will prove if the liver is damaged. In order to reduce the amount of heart muscle damaged from a heart attack an enzyme called streptokinase is entered into the veins immediately after a heart attack. The enzyme stimulates extra production of plasmin. 'Plasmin is produced in the blood to break down fibrin, which is the major constituent of blood clots, therefore dissolving clots in the arteries of the heart wall'. (http://www.tiscali.co.uk/lifestyle/healthfitness/health_advice/netdoctor/archive/100002472.html). Using enzymes especially in genetic engineering has caused many moral and ethical issues to rise and in particular religions being concerned about 'playing God'. However enzymes have been used and are being used at present in medicine related applications whether it is to analyse or diagnose medical disorders or treat illnesses. Enzymes have helped to save many lives, and a large number of people are thankful to them without even knowing about them. The potential of scientific technology has not yet reached and the rate at which science and technology is developing currently, many more enzymes will be discovered which will probably end up helping in curing miraculous diseases. The above enzymes are just some from the list but will end up being trendsetters to many more enzymes. ...read more.

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