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Unformatted text preview: 1-1Cell and Molecular Biology (Biol. Chem. 410A)Lecture #1Harry R. Matthews, Ph.D.September 26, 1996Principles of Biomolecular StructureClinical correlations:•Drugs—ethanol•Dwarfism•Myocardial infarction•AspirinLearning objectives:•The body works at the molecular level•Molecules are organized into cells•Cells are organized into organs•Small molecules in the body•Biological macromoleculesOptional reading:•Alberts et al.:3rd Ed. chapter 2Hierarchies of structure in the body.Humans, like other higher organisms, are made up of organs and tissues. These, in turn are made primarily from cells and extracellu-lar fluids and connecting tissue. Cells are con-structed from macromolecules and provide compartments for the important small mo-lecules of cells. The molecules are made from atoms that are themselves made from sub-atomic particles and so on. At what levels does the clinician need to comprehend the working of the human body?The roles of molecules.The basic unit of the human body and, hence, of clinical biochemistry is the molecule. Our food is taken in and broken down into simple molecules which are then used as energy sup-ply or built up again into macromolecular and larger structures. The signals that control and coordinate the actions of the various parts of the body are carried through the action of pro-teins and small molecules, as in the case of a hormone circulating in the blood or of a nerve impulse transferring across a synapse.A simple example of the effects of mo-lecules on the body is seen in the effects of drugs. For example, ethanol is a common simple molecule that has profound effects on the body. The active component of aspirin, acetyl salicylate, is only slightly more comp-licated than ethanol but aspirin is an ex-tremely useful anti-inflammatory drug which also appears to reduce the risk of colon can-cer. Detection of individual molecules in body fluids is a classic diagnostic tool. For example, the detection of phenylketone in urine and phenylalanine in blood plasma are critical in-dicators of the disease phenylketonuria (PKU). PKU, when detected at birth, can be treated successfully but if untreated will seri-ously disrupt brain development.Molecules of greater complexity are also important. For example, most cases of dwarfism are due to a deficiency of human growth hormone and can be successfully treated by injections of synthetic growth hor-mone. In addition, the measurement of the activity of the enzyme lactate dehydrogenase in blood plasma is one of the major diagnostic indicators used to determine the cause of chest pain....
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- Spring '03