The Applications of Enzymes in Medicine

The Applications of Enzymes in Medicine
Enzymes are biological catalysts which speed up chemical reactions by lowering the activation energy (the minimum amount of energy required for a reaction to take place). Enzymes are proteins which have a tertiary structure and they are very specific- only the correct substrate can combine with the active site of the correct enzyme, thereby producing an enzyme substrate complex. ?They are also highly specific, which means fewer unwanted side-effects and by-products in the production process,? (1). Furthermore, enzymes are biodegradable and the ?ability of enzymes to catalyse specific chemical reactions at body temperature makes them useful tools in the commercial world,? (7). This is because less energy is required which means they are relatively cheap. Enzymes are used in medicine in a variety of ways. I will look at some of the main ways in which enzymes are used.The process of genetic engineering involves the use of many enzymes in cutting, modifying and joining the dna. Restriction enzymes (restriction endonucleases) ?are enzymes that cut dna at specific sites,? which ?cut bonds in the middle of the polynucleotide chain,? (2). The dna is then modified including ?degradation, synthesis, and alteration of dna,? (3, pg. 42). dna ligase is another enzyme used and is the opposite of endonucleases. Whereas endonucleases are used to cut dna, dna ligase ?is used to seal discontinuities in the sugar phosphate chains?? (3, pg. 44). Endonucleases are also used for genetic fingerprinting, (4, pg. 77). Enzymes are also used in analytical tests for example to test for ?glucose, urea, ketones, cholesterol etc. in blood and urine,? (4, pg. 81). Analytic tests are also used by diabetics to measure the amount of glucose in the blood. The glucose oxidase in the strip of paper oxidises the glucose present in the blood, which can be measured according to the colour change which represents the amount of glucose present, (5). Biosensors are also used ?for analysing biologically active compounds in solutions,? such as glucose, urea and hormones, (4, pg. 83). Enzyme based biosensors are useful for measuring the amount of urea in blood or urine. An enzyme transducer sensor is used to do this and the enzyme urease is used to detect urea. The urease is immobilised around the tip of an ammonium ion probe and is surrounded by a membrane which is permeable to urea. ?When dipped into a solution containing urea, molecules of the solute diffuse through the membrane and are broken down into carbon dioxide and ammonium ions,? by urease. The amount of urea present can be calculated according to the amount of ammonium produced in a given time, (4, pg. 83). Enzymes are also used as supplements for those who have enzyme deficiencies. They are used commonly to aid digestion. Supplements of natural amylase, lipase and proteins are given. Those who have lactose intolerance and cannot ingest milk due to a lack of the enzyme lactase are given lactase supplements. Lactase converts lactose into glucose and galactose. This prevents people from getting stomach upsets, (5). Enzyme supplements are also beneficial to those who suffer from conditions such as cystic fibrosis, Gaucher?s disease and celiac disease which cause enzyme deficiency, (6). Therapeutic enzymes (enzymes used as medicines) are used ?usually to replace enzyme deficiencies,? (5). They are used as blood clotting factors to treat haemoplilia or as the opposite, for example proteases are used to degrade fibrin as they ?can prevent the formation of dangerous blood clots,? (5). Fibrin clots after heart attacks, can also be removed using the enzyme urokinase, (4, pg. 81). Proteases are used quite widely in medicine as they are also used as anti inflammatory reagents. These enzymes reduce inflammation due to the ?dissolution of soft fibrin and to the clearance of proteinaceous debris found in inflammatory exudates,? (8). Superoxide dismutase is another enzyme used as an anti inflammatory agent, (5). Proteases are also used in wound therapy to accelerate the healing process as they clean wounds. ?In this case they are called debriding agents,? (5). Other proteolytic enzymes- trypsin and chymotrypsin ?have been successfully used in the treatment of postoperative hand trauma, athletic injuries, and sciatica,? (8). This further illustrates the point that proteases are used widely in medicine. Enzymes are also used to cure illnesses for example ?nuclease is considered as a possible therapy for cystic fibrosis,? (5) and L-asparginase is used in cancer chemotherapy as it removes the nutrient needed for tumour growth in tissues, (7). Overall, ?therapeutic enzymes have a broad variety of specific uses: as oncolytics, as anticoagulants or thrombolytics and as replacements for metabolic deficiencies,? (8). The enzyme L- asparginase is an oncolytic. Enzymes can be used to diagnose disease. This can be done by detecting enzymes in a place where they shouldn?t be for example ?when the liver is diseased or damaged, enzymes only found normally in the liver leak into the bloodstream,? (5). Therefore, tests can be carried out by examining the blood to check for liver damage. Certain enzymes found in the blood also indicate a heart attack. The enzymes ?troponin I (TnI, TnT), creatine phosphokinase (cpk, CK), and lactate dehydrogenase (lactic acid dehydrogenase or ldh),? (9) are measured in blood. High amounts of these enzymes indicate whether a person has had a heart attack as ?the enzymes leak out of the damaged heart muscle cells and their levels in the bloodstream rise,? (9). Enzymes are also used in drug manufacture to perform chemical conversions as ?the chemical synthesis of complex drugs is often difficult,? (5). There are many advantages of using enzymes in drug manufacture as ?their use can often simplify the synthesis of complex molecules, reducing the number of steps required and the related costs, particularly when chiral molecules are involved,? (10). The specificity of enzymes is also a beneficial factor in this area because. This is shown by a manager for biocatalysis and biotransformations who says, ?If you want to modify one specific alcohol functionality among five others to get a new product, you can do that with an appropriate enzyme, because of its selectivity. With organic chemistry, you would have to re-synthesize the whole molecule,? (10). This shows how unique enzymes are in their specificity and selectivity and also how they simplify processes compared to other methods. In conclusion, I have found out that enzymes are used broadly in medicine and are essential in many areas, for example genetic engineering would be impossible without the use of enzymes and cancer would not be curable without enzymes. Without enzymes, medicine would not be as advanced as it is as they are used in many treatments and it would be difficult to make progression. Research indicates that the full potential of enzymes has not yet been discovered as new discoveries are still being made.

The Applications of Enzymes in Medicine 9.5 of 10 on the basis of 1505 Review.