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Discuss the use of enzymes in pharmaceutical diagnostic testing

Enzymes are of regular use in medicine and pharmaceutical engineering. They have several valuable industrial and medical applications and it is thought that it is through their ability to catalyse reactions and subsequently lowering the energy required for a reaction to occur which makes them of particular use in industry (Smith et al, 1997). Additionally, enzymes are able to be used in a variety of different ways which include their use in the manufacture of alcohol, washing detergents, not to mention their use in the pharmaceutical and diagnostic industry.

The use of enzymes in the pharmaceutical world is becoming increasingly common throughout medical research and practice. Biopharmaceutical companies, which specialize in the manufacture of disease-related biomolecules, are becoming increasingly reliant upon the use of enzymes in their work. This reliance is particularly evident within drug and biopharmaceutical companies which aim to develop therapeutics and diagnostics for the management of diseases such as cancer and arthritis.

Screening for diabetes is also commonly carried out through the use of enzymes. Testing of a patient's blood sugar concentration usually requires the use of two enzymes: glucose oxidase and hexokinase as these enzymes are known to catalyse the conversion of glucose (found in the urine of a patient with diabetes, due to an imbalance of the homeostatic mechanisms found within the body) into another chemical compound, inducing a colour change in urine solution. This diagnostic test is perhaps one of the oldest pharmaceutical methods making use of enzymes, and is still used today (Bernard, 2001).

The test highlights the importance of an enzymes ability to identify one particular substrate within a mixed solution in the diagnosis of a clinical disease phenotype.

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