Biochemistry is the study of the chemical components in living things, and the interplay between such components. As such its practical applications are virtually boundless. Two of the biggest fields of work that require biochemistry knowledge are pharmaceuticals, and genetics.
The pharmaceutical industry greatly relies on biochemistry because the chemical make-up of the body must be studied in relationship to the chemicals we might put in out body via prescription or over the counter drugs. Certain medications have been developed specifically because of biochemistry research.
For example, antidepressants like Paxil, Zoloft and Prozac, called serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), are used because there is an underlying medical assumption that in depressed people, serotonin gets used too quickly by the body. This affects mood significantly. By inhibiting the body’s quick grab for serotonin, more free serotonin is allowed to circulate and thus improves depression.
Biochemistry helps to make the development of drugs like SSRIs possible because theories based on these drugs derive specifically from the study of chemicals produced by the body that affect mood. Biochemistry work in hormones, enzymes, proteins and cell interaction all enhance understanding of what type of chemicals might be needed to correct imbalances, without adversely affecting the other chemicals produced in the body. Thus pharmaceutical research and development remains an extremely important field for biochemistry.
Genetic research, like the human genome project, is just as valuable, and is a field in which many experts in biochemistry take part. Additionally, the current research regarding stem cells has led to very important information about chemical processes that essentially cause cell death, called apoptosis. If stem cells might be used to repair parts of the body, it is essential that the cells will be viable. Understanding chemical signals that might kill a population of stem cells aids in the understanding of when and how stem cells might be used.
Biotechnology, the use of living things to make products, is another field in which the biochemistry expert thrives. As well, the food industry attracts biochemists. In studies regarding food, biochemists might work in a number of practical ways, such as product development of foods that are least likely to cause weight gain, or developing foods that are have highly beneficial qualities. Most wineries and breweries use biochemistry frequently to evaluate yeasts and acids used to make alcohol.
Experts in biochemistry might also use their skills to make chemical products like herbicides or pesticides. Many work in small research labs that may study specific things or analyze materials for contaminants. For example testing water and food for live parasitic agents is a valued act of biochemistry.
Essentially, those specializing in biochemistry can use their knowledge in numerous ways in order to continue to improve the earth. They may learn to replace dangerous chemicals with safer ones, or find ways to improve health. They have a choice of fields that include applications in medicine, genetics, food science, biotechnology, and pharmaceuticals. Their work is of extraordinary value as we continue to discover the importance of chemical compounds that are the building blocks of all living things.