Biochemistry is one of the essential branches of biology that deals with the chemical basis of life in both plants and animals.
In simple terms, it is the study of biological molecules, their metabolism, and their role in body physiology.
The study of biochemistry is essential for doctors, nurses, pharmacists, allied health care individuals, and biology students.
It is used in clinical diagnosis, manufacturing various biological products, treatment of diseases, nutrition, agriculture, etc.
One can study biochemistry as a part of graduation or post-graduation, like in medical biochemistry, forensic biochemistry, agriculture biochemistry, etc.
What is biochemistry
Biochemistry, in general, deals with body molecules like enzymes, carbohydrates, amino acids, fats, proteins, hormones, DNA, RNA, pigments, etc.
It describes their origin, formation, function, deficiency symptoms, etc.
It tries to explain life in terms of biochemical changes and reactions. One can understand all the chemical reactions in a living cell or living being at the molecular level.
The role of biochemistry and its importance in various fields is as described below.
Importance of biochemistry in Medicine
Biochemistry is a valuable subject for medicine and paramedical subjects. It is helpful in different sub-topics like physiology, pathology, pharmacology, and more.
- Biochemistry helps one understand the biochemical changes and related physiological alterations in the body.
- The pathology of any disease is studied through biochemical changes.
- Based on the symptoms described by the patient, the physician can get a clue about the biochemical change and the associated disorder.
For example, suppose a patient complains about stiffness in small joints. In that case, the physician may predict it to be gout and get confirmed by evaluating uric acid levels in the blood as uric acid accumulation in blood results in gout.
In the present scenario, many people rely on taking multivitamins & minerals for better health.
The function and role of the vitamins in the body are described by biochemistry.
There are many disorders due to hormonal imbalance, especially in women and children.
The role of hormones in body function is taught in biochemistry, due to which the physician can understand the related disease and options for treatment.
Importance of biochemistry in Nursing
In nursing, the importance of clinical biochemistry is invaluable.
When a patient is in the hospital, nurses need to keep a watch on how his condition is progressing through clinical biochemistry.
That is the treatment for helping him recover from said condition etc.
Almost all diseases or disorders have some biochemical involvement. So the diagnosis of any clinical condition is easily possible by biochemical estimations.
- Kidney function test: For example in kidney disorders, other chemotherapy treatments, etc. urine tests help understand the extent of excretion of drugs or other metabolites, the change in pH, the color of urine, etc.
- Blood test: In diabetes, a biochemical analytical test for blood glucose level (above 150mg/deciliter) helps one understand the severity of the diabetes disorder. Another biochemical analysis for ketone bodies in urine also indicates the stage of diabetes. The appearance of ketone bodies or ketone urea is mostly the last stage of diabetes.
- Liver function tests help understand the type of disease or damage to the liver, the effect of any medication on the liver, etc.
- Serum cholesterol test: Evaluation of blood cholesterol level and other lipoproteins helps to understand the proneness of the patient to cardiovascular diseases.
Thus the importance of clinical biochemistry is to help the nurse monitor the patient’s condition regularly during the treatment.
Significance of biochemistry in Agriculture
In agriculture, biochemistry plays a valuable role in farming, fishery, poultry, sericulture, beekeeping, etc.
- Prevent diseases: It helps in the prevention, and treatment of diseases, and also increases the production or yield.
- Enhance growth: Biochemistry gives an idea of how the use of fertilizers can increase plant growth, yield, quality of food, etc.
- Enhance Yield: Some hormones promote growth, while others encourage flowering, fruit formation, etc. In fisheries, the use of substances to promote fish growth, reproduction, etc. can be understood.
- Biochemical tests for pesticide residues or other toxic waste in plants, food grains, and soil can be evaluated. Hence during the import and export of food grains, a biochemical check of the toxic residues is done to fix the quality.
- In animal husbandry, the quality of milk can be checked by biochemical tests. It also helps diagnose any disease condition in animals and birds.
- In fisheries, the water quality is regularly monitored by biochemical tests. Any drastic change in water chemistry & composition of fishery ponds can lead to the vast death of fishes and prawns. Hence the tests are done regularly to see salt content (calcium content), pH, accumulation of waste due to not changing the water for long, etc.
Importance of biochemistry in Nutrition
In nutrition, biochemistry describes food chemistry. For maintenance of health, optimum intake of many biochemicals like macro, micronutrients, vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids & water is necessary.
1. Food chemistry gives an idea of what we eat, i.e., its components like carbohydrates, proteins, fats, etc., and also the possible physiological alteration due to their deficiency.
2. The role of nutrients: Due to biochemistry, the importance of vitamins, minerals, and essential fatty acids, and their contribution to health were known. Hence there is a frequent recommendation for the inclusion of crucial amino acids, cod liver oil, salmon fish oil, etc., by physicians and other health and fitness experts.
3. The nutrient value of food material can also be determined by biochemical tests.
4. Adulteration: Even the composition of food material produced, contamination, or unwanted mixing can be identified.
For example, honey contamination can be identified by Fiehe’s tests. Biochemistry tests help prevent contamination.
5. The physician can prescribe to limit the usage of certain food like excess sugar for diabetics, excess oil for heart & lung problem-prone patients, etc.
These carbohydrates and fat diets can inhibit the recovery rate from said disorder. This knowledge is due to their idea of food chemistry and related.
Scope of biochemistry in Pharmacy
In a pharmacy, many drugs are stored for regular dispensing.
- Drug Constitution: Biochemistry gives an idea of the constitution of the drug, its chances of degradation with varying temperatures, etc. How modification in the chemistry of medicine helps improve efficiency, minimize side effects, etc.
- The half-life: This is a test done on biochemical drugs to know how long a drug is stable when kept at so and so temperature.
- Drug storage: The storage condition required can be estimated by the biochemical test. For example, many enzymes, and hormones are stored for dispensing. These get deteriorated over time due to temperature or oxidation, contamination, and also due to improper storage.
- Drug metabolism: It also gives an idea of how drug molecules are metabolized by many biochemical reactions in the presence of enzymes. This helps to avoid drugs that have a poor metabolism or those with excessive side effects from being prescribed or dispensed to the patient.
- Biochemical tests: These tests help fix the specific half-life or date of the expiry of drugs.
Significance in Biomedical Engineering
As you might have known, biomedical engineering helps to design devices or applications in support of health. This involves designing heart valves, artificial blood, diagnostic machines, etc. For this, biochemistry is taught as a part of the curriculum. It helps to
- Understand the effect of electric shock on the body
- The mechanism of nerve conduction, heart conduction by pacemakers, and muscle contraction are explained which helps the bio medics to see for any possible therapeutic interventions by application of their knowledge.
- It also gives knowledge about colloids and how to design colloids for the vitality of muscles and other medical applications.
Importance of biochemistry in plants
The biochemistry of plants gave way to the breakthrough of how food is synthesized in them and the reason why they are autotrophs, i.e., not dependent on other living beings for food. Biochemistry in plants describes
1. Photosynthesis: This describes how carbohydrates are synthesized by the use of sunlight, CO2, and water in the green leaves of plants. It goes on to explain about different complex enzymes involved in the process to combine the energy of the sunlight within the molecules of H2O+ CO2 to form the carbohydrates.
2. Respiration: By use of the above photosynthesis pathway, plants leave out Oxygen while taking up Carbon dioxide from the air. This air is used to generate energy in a cell like that of animal cells.
3. Different sugars: Biochemistry defines different types of carbohydrates formed in plants like trioses (3 carbon sugars, i.e., glyceraldehyde), tetroses (4), pentoses (5), and hexoses (6= glucose), heptoses (7), etc. Tetroses are the carbohydrates that go on to form the nucleic acids, i.e., deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA), and ribonucleic acid (RNA).
4. Plant secondary metabolites: Biochemistry also describes how the plant products like gums, tannins, alkaloids, resins, enzymes, and phytohormones are formed inside the plant.
Further, the role of different plant cell parts in physiology is explained.
This includes the conversion of different biochemicals over time like lignin, and chitin to harden the dead vascular vessels.
5. Other functions: It also describes how plant fruits get ripened, how plant seed germinates, the respiration process inside the plant cell, how proteins and amino acids are formed on the rough endoplasmic reticulum, and fats are formed on smooth ER.
References: Lehninger Principles of Biochemistry
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