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This content is taken from the UEA (University of East Anglia) & Biochemical Society's online course, Biochemistry: the Molecules of Life. Join the course to learn more.

Skip to 0 minutes and 0 secondsOn completion of our first biochemical topic we've seen how biochemists are taking inspiration from naturally found chemical systems to create sustainable solutions to environmental issues, for example our knowledge of photosynthesis, will allow us to design advanced biotechnology products that can harness solar energy with greater efficiency. Our understanding of how nitrogen-containing compounds are metabolised has informed the agriculturists on how to maximise the yield of their crops with fertilisers and also minimised the toxic effects on the environment. And we've shown you how biochemists use bioenergetics to quantify the energy associated with metabolic pathways, and how these pathways are inspiring the design and development of various products from medicines to fertilisers and biofuels.

Skip to 0 minutes and 50 secondsYou have met some of the scientists from the UEA the Norwich Research Park and across the world whose pioneering biochemical research promises to play a major role in scientific developments across these topics in the near future. You've also seen how these scientists, as well as other professionals have used the skills they developed during their training in biochemistry to progress in their careers in a wide variety of fields. Some metabolic pathways produce chemicals that provide useful ecological functions for themselves. Indeed, for thousands of years humans have relied on the medicinal properties of such chemicals with many useful drugs being developed from natural products and a wide variety of sources, including plants, microorganisms and marine life.

Skip to 1 minute and 39 secondsIn the final week of this course, we will focus on examples of imported drugs developed from natural sources that have revolutionised the treatment of once life-threatening conditions, as well as the management of infection and pain. Even today natural products still represent a promising source of new medicines against serious human diseases, including cancer, HIV and malaria. In recent years, we've gained in an increased understanding of how the chemicals we put into our bodies affect us, not only those that we take us drugs but also those naturally found in the foods in our diet.

Skip to 2 minutes and 11 secondsMore and more people in the Western world are being diagnosed with problems associated with their diet, including diabetes and obesity, leading to complex and costly chronic health problems, whilst in the developing countries, malnutrition is still claiming thousands of lives. The work of biochemists has shown that many of the foods you identify as being healthy contain natural products with protective properties for the cells that produce them. Next week, we will see how biochemists are investigating how natural products affect human cellular metabolism, and how we can adapt our diets to maximise the benefits these foods have on our health.

End of week two round-up

Some of the course leaders summarise this week’s important points and highlight what will be discussed next week.

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This video is from the free online course:

Biochemistry: the Molecules of Life

UEA (University of East Anglia)