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What is biochemistry?




Biochemistry is the application of chemistry to the study of biological systems. It is a scientific discipline that examines important concepts, such as what is life? How are cells different and similar? Why do we age? What are the processes that sustain life? It is also a field of study that uses chemistry as a tool to answer these questions.


Biochemistry is considered one of the oldest scientific disciplines. The first known scientist to use the word "biochemistry" was Paracelsus, who in 1527 described chemistry as "the science of life". Biochemistry is sometimes called molecular biology, medical biochemistry, physiochemistry, or organic chemistry. The term 'biochemical' usually refers to the branch of biochemistry which studies chemical processes within living organisms (including plants and animals), whereas molecular biology generally concerns itself with the study of biological molecules including genetics, nucleic acids, and proteins.


When biochemistry studies living systems, it uses biochemistry either as a tool to explain how the systems work or as a basis for medical testing or research. When biochemists study non-living things (such as minerals and crystals), they are usually known as crystallographers. Strictly speaking, biochemistry is not the study of chemical reactions in the absence of life. However, the term 'biochemist' is sometimes employed to describe those who focus their research on inorganic materials and that do not consider themselves biologists; scientists specializing in organic chemistry may be termed 'organic chemists'.


What is life?

Life is a property of living organisms. It is the ability to perform these essential processes, which are as follows: 

1.  Sustenance.

2.  Reproduction.

3.  Adaptation to the environment.

4.  The ability to solve problems with RNA, DNA, and proteins. Biochemistry studies all these things in relation to one another and how they work together because they are essential to live organisms and use them in their daily tasks such as digestion and building bones and muscles, etc., which enables them to survive. The chemical processes that control the cell's functions are called biochemistry which entails cellular organization [see section 4 below] .

The fundamentals of biochemistry all relate ba the principles of chemistry. Biochemistry is a branch of chemistry that studies the chemical processes in living organisms, which is what makes them alive.


Cell organization:

A cell is the smallest living unit that can carry out all life functions independently. It is like a miniature factory, and it contains all the machinery needed for its specific function and organization. It is organized in a way that permits the cell to carry out chemical reactions and remain alive through survival mechanisms such as homeostasis. In biochemistry, a cell is structurally separate from its surroundings. It differs from other components of the body such as tissues and organs because it does not have these components external to it. A cell will only contain substances within itself and will not contain any outside substances. This is why a cell's function depends on what chemicals are inside the cell: what these chemicals do is called biochemistry .

What are the processes that sustain life?

There are Four fundamental processes that sustain life. These processes are known as metabolism, growth, reproduction a, and repair. The word 'metabolism' means change in matter or substance (as by transformation into another form). The word 'growth' means increase or enlargement – growth is just another word for metabolism. There are many chemical transformations that take place in a cell during the process of growth.


What are the processes in a cell?

A cell contains smaller units called organelles, which are surrounded by a membrane. The contents of an organelle are kept separate from the rest of the cell by physical barriers including membranes, so that only certain molecules reach their destination inside the organelle, and not others . For example, within an organelle such as mitochondria (also known as "mitochondria"), only electrons reach from outside to inside. An organelle is a special kind of cell that does not contain anything outside itself. All the substances in an organelles interior are contained within its own structure. Organelles include mitochondria and chloroplasts, which are plant cells.


The molecules that are found inside an organelle do not come from outside; they are produced by processes taking place inside the cell (that is, they arise within the cell) .


How do these processes sustain life?

During the process of respiration, glucose is broken down into carbon dioxide and water. In this process, oxygen is released into the air; this is linked chemically to man's conception of "life". The process of respiration is one of the most important processes in a cell. Other processes sustain life. These include the process of growth and reproduction, as well as the process of adaptation to the environment.  These processes are related to each other; they are all essential to living organisms, because all living things have them, and they are what enables an organism to survive by solving problems with RNA, DNA, and proteins.


Respiration involves a chemical process in which glucose (a sugar) is broken down into carbon dioxide and water .


What are the main tasks in respiration?

Two main tasks take place during respiration: 

1. The oxidation of glucose. 

2. The reduction of oxygen.


1) The breakdown of the carbohydrate glucose into carbon dioxide and water. This changes the combination of atoms from a bonded form (carbon, oxygen, and hydrogen in chemicals such as carbon dioxide) to their unbound form (carbon, oxygen, and hydrogen in chemicals such as water). As a result, carbon dioxide is released as a waste product during respiration. This is one of the main processes that sustain life because this process converts glucose into carbon dioxide and water which are then released out into the air or other surroundings where they can take part in chemical reactions. This is a very useful process because these substances are used by living cells and organisms to help them survive .

2) The oxidation of glucose can also be seen from the reduction of oxygen. This involves removing electrons from the oxygen in order to produce water, with the aid of electrons taken from food molecules such as glucose. Reducing means adding electrons; removing or getting rid of excess electons. Here, oxygen loses 2 electrons because there are two compounds that need electrons for their chemical reactions: water and carbon dioxide. OXYGEN:

3) Carbon dioxide is formed by the breaking down (the oxidation) of glucose in respiration. This is because 2 oxygen atoms are oxidised and combine with 2 hydrogen atoms to make carbon dioxide.

4) Oxygen is reduced in respiration because it receives electrons from glucose and becomes water. This process is actually known as the "reduction of oxygen. "

Reduction is the loss of electrons from an atom such as oxygen. The reduction of oxygen occurs in respiration because once 2 hydrogen atoms have been removed, the remaining hydrogen atoms do not have enough electrons to hold a stable chemical bond.  This means that they break apart into two parts: hydrogen (which can continue to exist as an atom) and water (which can be seen as two hydrogen atoms reduced to the smallest possible size).

How does respiration take place?

In respiration, glucose molecules are broken down into carbon dioxide and water. This is known as "oxidation of glucose" or equation 1.1 . Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP) is a molecule that serves as a "molecular shuttle" for transporting chemical energy within the cell. This process is known as glycolysis, which means to break glucose down even further into "pyruvic acid and three phosphate groups". An enzyme, Pyruvate Dehydrogenase, uses ADP and one phosphate group from ATP (3' P) to make pyruvate.

1. Pyruvic acid: This can go on in the cell but it is released as waste because it has "too few electrons (one less than its partner carbon dioxide)" and a tendency to react with oxygen.

2. Three phosphate groups: These groups are formed by combining with ADP, a molecule of the cell's energy supply. Pyruvate is then converted into two molecules of acetyl-coenzyme A (acetyl-CoA) , which is a major component of cellular energy metabolism . Without these three phosphate groups, ATP cannot be made and energy cannot be created within the cell.


Respiration gives off carbon dioxide and water as waste but they can become helpful in other ways Respiration gives off carbon dioxide and water as waste but they can become helpful in other ways.  Some of these ways depend on the condition of the cell. If the cell is in need of energy, then the carbon dioxide will be used to produce glucose and ATP which will then be used in energy-producing chemical reactions. If oxygen is low (as it is at times), then the carbon dioxide released by respiration can be combined with hydrogen ions (which are produced when certain chemical reactions take place) and become methane . This can be seen from equation 1.2 . Methane gas has a lower boiling point than water, so if methane is given off into air it may become the most effective way for living things to survive. This can be seen from equation 1.3 .

1. Respiration:   Carbon Dioxide + Water = Glucose + Oxygen .

2. Glycolysis:   Pyruvic acid + 3 P = 2 Acetyl CoA .

3. Combustion:   4 Acetyl CoA = 4 CO2+ 6 H2O .

4. Cell Preservation:  

If a cell or organism needs to be preserved (kept safe) and it can't get enough oxygen then instead of making glucose through respiratiuon, it will use the carbon dioxide in respiration to make methane gas as seen above in equation 1.2. If a cell or organism is preserved in this way, then it can survive for long periods of time if its environment keeps it in a low oxygen state.

5. Death: When an organism or a cell is dead, there is often still enough oxygen left that the carbon dioxide released by the respiration process will be combusted and thus become carbon dioxide again. This means that the carbon dioxide will still be available for organisms to make glucose and ATP within their cells .


The Respiratory System The respiratory system is made up of organs involved with breathing and processes such as respiration. Respi ratory organs are those that are involved with breathing in air and getting oxygen from it. They can be divided into two groups: the accessory organs of respiration and the respiratory organs . 'Accessory' means to help something along. The accessory organs of respiration are those that help to get air into the body. The respiratory (or primary) organs, meanwhile, are those that bring about internal respiration, or gaseous exchange between an organism and its external environment. These includethe nostrils, mouth, pharynx, larynx , trachea , bronchi and lungs .


Respiratory organ that brings about internal respiration The larynx is a part of the respiratory system . It lies in the top of the trachea (windpipe) and consists of a narrow tube made of cartilage . The Larynx is used in what is known as " phonation ", the act by which air passes from the larynx through some vocal cords to produce sounds. Over time, due to aging, smoking, or other reasons , this passage will become more narrow and could make it difficult for air to pass through. This will cause various types of inflexibility in one's voice. Phonation can be considered an "internal respiration".

The lungs are one of the respiratory organs. They are the major organs of respiration in humans and other large mammals. The lung is located in the chest, behind the sternum and between the ribs. It is made up of lobes: three in a healthy individual .


The Respiratory Function and Breathing Every time we take a breath, air enters our lungs through our nostrils or mouth. This fills the lungs with oxygen-rich air. Then something called "dilation" occurs; as we breathe out, dilation sends oxygen-poor air back to outside of the body through the windpipe (trachea), larynx, mouth and nose . This action is known as "respiration". When we're not breathing, our lungs are still active and they continue to respire.


A person's chest expands as they breathe in or out . This is normal . If someone's breathing is rapid, their chest muscle may be tight and their ribs will be seen moving up and down with each breath. This is called "breathing in deeply". Abnormal chest movements can be caused by the following:

1. Breathing too fast  - this can be caused by anxiety, stress or hyperventilation (a type of panic attack).

2. Nocturnal Dyspnea - this is a very common sleep disorder that occurs during the night . Common symptoms include breathing abnormally fast and/or too hard. This condition is also often associated with choking or snoring sounds.

3. Heart failure - the heart muscle becomes weak and can no longer pump blood around the body properly. As a result, fluid builds up in the lungs, making them overfill with air. To cope with this problem, the person's chest muscles start to work harder as they squeeze the chest cavity (pleural sac) to expel this excess fluid and make breathing easier. Some people with heart failure have a dry cough that clears out their lungs of this fluid buildup.

4. Pulmonary fibrosis - this is a condition caused by the development of scar tissue on the lungs. The scar tissue causes breathing to become more difficult and gradually increases in size. Some of the other symptoms include shortness of breath and coughing.



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