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Encyclopedia > Biochemical

Biochemistry is the chemistry of life. Biochemists study the elements, compounds and chemical reactions that are controlled by enzymes and take place in all living organisms.

Biochemistry is focused on the structure and function of cellular components, such as proteins, carbohydrates, lipids, nucleic acids, and other biomolecules. Recently biochemistry has focused more specifically on the chemistry of enzyme-mediated reactions, and on the properties of proteins.

The biochemistry of cell metabolism has been extensively described. Other areas of biochemistry include the genetic code (DNA, RNA), protein synthesis, cell membrane transport, signal transduction and energy decomposition cycles.


Development of biochemistry

The dawn of biochemistry may have been the discovery of the first enzyme, diastase, in 1833 by Anselme Payen. In 1828, Friedrich Wöhler published a paper about the synthesis of urea, proving that organic compounds can be created artificially, in contrast to the common belief of the time that organic compounds can only be made by living organisms. Since then, biochemistry has advanced, especially since the mid-20th century, with the development of new techniques such as chromatography, X-ray diffraction, NMR, radioisotopic labelling, electron microscopy and molecular dynamics simulations. These techniques allowed for the discovery and detailed analysis of many molecules and metabolic pathways of the cell, such as glycolysis and the Krebs cycle.

Today, the findings of biochemistry are used in many areas, from genetics to molecular biology and from agriculture to medicine. The first application of biochemistry was probably the making of bread using yeast, about 5000 years ago.


Biochemistry is principally concerned with the chemistry of substances that can be classified into a few major categories:

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General subfields within biology
Anatomy | Astrobiology | Biochemistry | Bioinformatics | Botany | Cell biology | Ecology | Evolutionary biology | Genetics | Marine biology | Human biology | | Microbiology | Molecular biology | Origin of life | Paleontology | Physiology | Taxonomy | Zoology


Analytical chemistry | Organic chemistry | Inorganic chemistry | Physical chemistry | Polymer chemistry | Biochemistry | Materials science | Environmental chemistry | Pharmacy | Thermochemistry | Electrochemistry | Nuclear chemistry | Computational chemistry | Photochemistry
Periodic table | List of compounds

  Results from FactBites:
Biochemical Diagnosis of Pheochromocytoma (5491 words)
Measurements of the combined sum of urinary outputs of normetanephrine and metanephrine in sulfate-conjugated plus free form (commonly known as urinary total metanephrines), as measured by out-dated spectrofluorometric methods, are not sensitive tests of a pheochromocytoma and have limited value in the initial work-up of a patient suspected of having a pheochromocytoma.
Ultimately, it is a combination of biochemical and radiological tests combined with clinical assessment of symptoms, signs and associated conditions that provides the clinician with sufficient evidence to establish or refute the diagnosis of pheochromocytoma.
This pattern of biochemical test results combined with a negative clonidine suppression test result (i.e., a substantial decrease in plasma norepinephrine after clonidine) is highly suggestive of sympathetic activation rather than a tumor, and, unless imaging studies suggest otherwise, a pheochromocytoma can be excluded and no further tests should be necessary.
Postgraduate Medicine: Osteoporosis Symposium: Biochemical markers of bone turnover (3168 words)
Biochemical markers can detect women who are considered "rapid losers" (ie, those who lose 3% to 5% of bone per year).
Biochemical marker measurements can differ in response to specific osteoporosis therapies and may even vary in the same patient.
Biochemical markers of bone turnover allow clinicians to evaluate the risk of bone loss and provide insight into response to therapy.
  More results at FactBites »



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