What is Biochemistry?

It’s probably the part of chemistry that most people remember from school, that talks about the chemistry that happens in living organisms. Things like carbohydrates, proteins, lipids, and nucleic acids which are all biomolecules.

Because biochemistry is also learned in school, it is the stepping stone to many other forms of science, including forensic science and genetics, as well as the understanding of the human body and biology. Most of what people know about the human body came from the early students of biochemistry.

The history of biochemistry

A scientist named Anselme Payen discovered amylase in 1833, which some say was the beginning of biochemistry, while others argue that the discovery and demonstration of alcoholic fermentation by Eduard Buchner is the true origin.

Enzymes and their effect on the body were soon studied as well, as many scientists noticed how starch was turned to sugar and meat was broken down in the body, but when Loius Pasteur studied how sugar was fermented into alcohol by adding yeast, he began to discover how fermentation worked.

Anselme discovered amylase, and the term enzyme was coined afterward, discussing the materials that caused chemical changes in organisms. It was soon discovered through further experiments that the yeast cells didn’t have to be alive to cause a change, and they could cause changes outside of a living cell.

The study of metabolism

Metabolism has been studied for over 800 years, and metabolism is one of the chemical processes that keep life going. It keeps food turning into energy with the help of oxygen and allows people to use that energy.

Metabolism is all about breaking down molecules and then building more to use glucose and then using that to form adenosine triphosphate or ATP. The molecules from food and drink are taken apart by metabolism to form protein, lipids, nucleic acids, and carbohydrates.

By taking apart the molecules by using catabolism and forming materials that the body can use in its reactions, and then building them up via anabolism, food is turned into one of the four molecules and enzymes help those reactions occur.

With the understanding of how metabolism works, scientists were able to discover more uses for ATP and ADP, as well as the process of glycolysis and how that affects the body.

Polymerase chain reaction

This was and still is one of the greatest advancements in biochemistry, as PCR is a way to create copies of a specific DNA gene and study them. Diagnosis and treatment for DNA problems are made possible by PCR, and it is even used in forensic studies because PCR can take a very small sample of DNA and then amplify it.

It has also been used to study ancient DNA, and amplify that to allow for the identification of corpses.

The benefits of biochemistry

Biochemistry allows for so much to be done in the sciences, all because people sought to understand the building blocks of the human body, and now they can build off of that and expand the knowledge to new heights.

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