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What is Enzymology?

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  • Last Modified Date: 06 November 2016
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Enzymology is a branch of the sciences which is concerned with the study of enzymes. Researchers in this field can apply their knowledge in a number of ways, ranging from developing medications which are designed to replace enzymes which the body is not producing to developing ways to use enzymes in manufacturing. A number of colleges and universities offer educational opportunities in enzymology, including the chance for graduate work which allows students to develop specialties within the field. Enzymologists can work for the government, universities, private research facilities, and corporations in a number of industries.

Enzymes are usually proteins, and they play a very important role in the world. An enzyme acts as a catalyst for a chemical reaction, whether that reaction involves the execution of DNA for the purpose of cell repair or the digestion of meat. Enzymologists are interested in the countless enzymes which have been identified and have yet to be identified, ranging from unique compounds in the flesh of papayas to the enzymes produced in the digestive tracts of animals.

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The structure of enzymes is an important topic of interest, as are deviations in structure which can cause enzymes to change function. The function and mechanism of action of enzymes are also fields of study in enzymology, with researchers working to understand how enzymes work, what they do, and what happens when they are not functioning properly. Enzyme deficiencies which cause health problems are also studied in enzymology, with researchers identifying the enzymes involved in such deficiencies and working on ways to replace them or mimic their action.

Regulation of enzymes and enzyme production are also covered in enzymology, as are the roles of inhibitors and promoters of enzyme activity. Enzymologists can work in environments like pharmaceutical companies, developing products which regulate enzyme production for the purpose of addressing health problems, and they can also be found studying natural compounds which inhibit enzymes, and how these compounds work.

Some examples of fields in which enzymology can play a role include: medicine, food science, nutrition, textile manufacturing, paper manufacturing, pharmaceuticals, chemistry, biology, and environmental remediation. Research on enzymes is an ongoing pursuit, with researchers uncovering new information all the time, from information about enzymes which could be used in environmental cleanups to discoveries of enzymes which can be used to create an aged look for blue jeans. People who are interested in careers in this field should plan on spending a number of years in school, as most enzymologists hold graduate degrees.

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anon297686
Post 4

Go purdueeeeeeeee son

KoiwiGal
Post 3

I always thought that enzymes in those clothes washing powder ads were actually "eating" the stains, which did not help me when it came to first learning about enzymes in school.

They did depict them as eating the stains, but in reality enzymes just make it easier for the soap to work, because they speed up and enhance the reactions.

What I always thought was kind of cool was that those enzymes are proteins, which means they are biological. They are actually made from engineered bacteria.

Which is not something you would normally want to be spreading all over your clothes! But that little tidbit of knowledge did make it easier for me to remember what enzymes are in my science class.

pastanaga
Post 2

@Iluviaporos - I don't know if it actually would. Although enzymes are used in many different industries and biological processes, they are all proteins that just act as catalysts.

I'm not even sure if it would be necessary to focus on a particular kind of enzyme in your studies in order to get into a particular kind of research about them. It seems like the sort of thing you'd learn on the job.

And the job would be relatively similar. Scientific research on the molecular level tends to not have huge amounts of difference in terms of what you actually do with your time, whether it's in an enzymology lab or not. It's only when you get into things like psychology, or geology or whatever that you may actually be getting out of doing fiddly things in a lab.

lluviaporos
Post 1

Enzymes seem like an enormous yet very specific thing to study. I imagine that would be a very good thing to go into if you are hoping for a job eventually.

Because I imagine you would start out studying science in general, then focus on enzymes. At that point your professors could guide you into which specific branch of enzymology would be a good one to follow, like food production, or washing clothes, or biology and how they work inside the body.

It just seems like it would give you a lot of choice as to what kind of job you'd have in the end.

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