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What is biochemistry?

A discussion about “What is biochemistry?” highlighting topics that exist in both subjects in the UK levels ("crossover points").

This video highlights the topics that exist in both biology and chemistry, “crossover points”, and in particular those that are discussed in the course.

Technical terms in simplified form


Antibiotics – also called antibacterials – are types of drugs that attack microbes and are used in the treatment and prevention of bacterial infection. There are several different types of antibiotics and they may either kill or inhibit the growth of bacteria.


Similar to antibiotics, antimicrobial agents kill microorganisms or inhibit their growth. Antimicrobial medicines can be grouped according to the microorganisms they act primarily against antibiotics are used against bacteria and antifungals are used against fungi.

Antimicrobial resistance

Antimicrobial resistance is used to refer to when populations of micro evolve to become resistant to antimicrobials that previously could treat it. This broad term also covers antibiotic resistance, which applies to bacteria and antibiotics. Resistant microbes are increasingly difficult to treat, requiring alternative medications or higher doses, which may be more costly or more toxic.

Antimicrobial resistance is on the rise and some infections are now completely untreatable due to resistance.

Metabolic pathway

Metabolic pathways are a series of linked chemical reactions occurring within a cell. The reactants, products, and intermediates of each reaction are known as metabolites, which are modified by a sequence of chemical reactions catalyzed by enzymes.

In a metabolic pathway, the product of one enzyme acts as the substrate for the next. Two main types of metabolic pathways are defined based on their ability to either synthesize large, complex molecules with a required input of energy (anabolic pathway) or break down the complex molecules into smaller ones and release energy in the process (catabolic pathway).

These two types of pathways complement each other because the energy released from catabolic pathways provides the energy required to undertake anabolic pathways.


Pharmacology is the branch of medicine and biology concerned with studying how drugs act. In this context, drugs can be defined as any man-made or natural molecule that exerts a biochemical and/or physiological effect on cells, tissues or organisms.

Pharmacology involves the study of the interactions that occur between a living organism and chemicals that affect normal or abnormal biochemical function. If substances have medicinal properties, they are considered pharmaceuticals.

Replication of genetic information

Replication relates to processes that produce two (or more) identical replicas of the starting point. In biochemistry replication usually refers to the production of two identical molecules of DNA from one original DNA molecule. This process occurs in all living organisms and is the basis for biological inheritance.

DNA is made up of a double helix of two strands, and each strand of the original DNA molecule serves as a template for the production of the complementary strand, a process referred to as semi-conservative replication. A number of proteins are associated with replication, but the most significant one is DNA polymerase, which synthesizes the new DNA molecule by adding complementary nucleotides to the template strand.

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Biochemistry: the Molecules of Life

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