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American High School Enzymes and Cancer Essay

Enzymes and Cancer

Enzymes are biological catalysts that play an important role in many biochemical reactions. Because of this, enzymes are increasingly being studied as potential targets for treating certain diseases. Cancer is one type of disease that might be a particularly good candidate for the development of drugs that target enzymes, particularly the enzyme telomerase. This enzyme plays an important role in cell division by protecting the ends of chromosomes during the chromosome replication process, allowing tumors to continue dividing. Telomerase is usually present in stem cells but is normally absent or found only in low concentrations in somatic cells. In cancer cells, however, telomerase may play an important role in allowing for the uncontrolled division of abnormal cells, which characterizes the various types of cancer. Since cancer is characterized by uncontrolled growth and division of abnormal cells and the formation of new cells, one treatment approach is to target enzymes involved in cell division.

To familiarize yourself with the enzyme telomerase and how it might affect aging and cancer, go through the attached PDF article entitled Telomeres, Telomerase, and Cancer published by Scientific American.

Write a Memo: The Importance of Telomerase

For this assignment, you will pretend to be a research assistant at a pharmaceutical company. You are part of a research group that focuses on developing drugs that target enzymes. Your group is thus particularly excited about the findings from this study and the possibility of developing drugs that might target telomerase. The leader of your research group wants to write a short summary that describes the importance of the enzyme telomerase to the Head of Drug Discovery at your company.

Your memo needs to consist of the following characteristics:

Format: The memo should in the format of a short letter to your boss, the Head of Drug Discovery. You may be creative with the names of people and companies if you wish.

Length: The Memo should be approximately two paragraphs in length. Do not exceed words. Managers don’t like to read lengthy articles. Keep everything very clear and brief.

Content: The Head of Drug Discovery does not remember all of the details about how enzymes work. The Memo needs to:

1. Define enzymes.

2. Explain how enzymes function as catalysts for biochemical reactions.

3. Discuss how reactions can be inhibited by inhibiting enzymes. (Note: enzymes themselves do NOT inhibit chemical reactions. Another inhibitory ligand binds to the enzyme, preventing it from catalyzing the reaction.)

4. Explain the importance of drugs that could be developed to interfere with the structure of telomerase to treat cancer.

Grammar: Since you are trying to impress your boss and establish your credibility as a research assistant, you should take care to carefully edit and proofread your memo



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