The Applications of Enzymes in Medicine

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The Applications 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). The DNA is then modified including “degradation, synthesis, and alteration of DNA,” (3, pg. 42). DNA ligase is another enzyme used and is the opposite of endonucleases. Whereas endonucleases are used to cut DNA, DNA ligase “is used to seal discontinuities in the sugar phosphate chains…” (3, pg. 44). Endonucleases are also used for genetic fingerprinting, (4, pg. 77). Enzymes are also used in analytical tests for example to test for “glucose, urea, ketones, cholesterol etc. in blood and urine,” (4, pg. 81). Analytic tests are also used by diabetics to measure the amount of glucose in the blood. The glucose oxidase in the strip of paper oxidises the glucose present in the blood, which can be measured according to the colour change which represents the amount of glucose present, (5). Biosensors are also used “for analysing biologically

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