Investigating the molecular foundations of living systems is the leitmotiv of biochemistry. This field shows fascinating scientific diversity — spanning from the analysis of chemical structures from nature experienced first-hand to the research of biological functions. This discipline historically developed from the study of metabolic reactions, enzymology and its energetics. By contrast, today, modern biochemical research has expanded to numerous areas marked by various technologies.
The foundations for understanding biomolecular functions of proteins, nucleic acids, carbohydrates and lipids are clarified through refined methods of structure analysis such as protein crystallography, nuclear magnetic resonance or mass spectrometry. Together with molecular biological techniques, detailed glimpses are gained into the mechanisms of enzymatic catalysis, substance and electron transport, signal transduction and cell/cell communication.
The analysis of biomolecular connections and their quantitative description enable increasingly more efficient models and more precise simulations for differentiating, for example, between healthy and unhealthy pathways in cells and organs. Ultimately, the systematic determination of all genes and proteins of an organism will lead to a system-oriented description of living organisms. From a substance perspective, it is now possible to ascertain new structures and functions by combinatory methods and increasingly also by rational approaches. For example, recombinant proteins, that are partially equipped with new functions due to protein engineering, as well as synthetic nucleic acids, have considerably expanded the repertoire of therapeutic active ingredients in recent years.
The more than 700 members of the Biochemistry Division of the German Chemical Society have set a primary focus on describing and understanding the structures of biomolecules as well as quantifying intra- and extracellular cell processes. An important aim hereby is always the relation to synthetic biology. Only the continuous improvement of methods for manipulating and enlarging knowledge of biomolecular structure-function relationships will allow the intelligent exploitation of biomolecules. Thus, tailored proteins are first examples of how new substances with useful properties for applications in health, analysis, the environment, and preparative chemistry can spring up from fundamental research in biochemistry.
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