Biochemistry is the study of the chemistry taking place in living organisms, especially the structure and function of their chemical components, such as proteins, carbohydrates, lipids, and nucleic acids and other small molecules present in cells.
Development of biochemistry
The dawn of biochemistry might have been the discovery of the first enzyme, diastase, in 1833 by Anselme Payen. In 1828, Friedrich Wöhler published a paper about the synthesis of urea, proving that organic compounds can be created artificially, in contrast to the common belief of the time that organic compounds can only be made by living organisms. Since then, biochemistry has advanced, especially since the mid-20th century, with the development of new techniques such as chromatography, X-ray diffraction, radioisotopic labelling, and electron microscopy. These techniques allowed for the discovery and detailed analysis of many molecules and metabolic pathways of the cell, such as glycolysis and the Krebs cycle.
Today, the findings of biochemistry are used in many areas, reaching from genetics to molecular biology, from agriculture to medicine. The first application of biochemistry, though, was probably the making of bread using yeast, about 5000 years ago.
Biochemistry is principally concerned with the chemistry of substances that can be classified into a few major categories:
The bulk of biochemical investigation focuses on the properties of proteins, many of which are enzymes. For historical reasons, the biochemistry of metabolism has been one of the most extensively described aspect of the cell. Important modern day areas include genetic code (DNA, RNA), protein synthesis, membrane dynamics and energy decomposition cycles.