Monthly Archives: April 2014


“Never say goodbye because goodbye means going away and going away means forgetting.”
― J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan

We’ve come to the end of our little project… and we have to say, it’s been fun, (as much as the dreaded Biochem can be). You never know, maybe we’ll be back again soon, til then…

troy-abed-gif-season-5-community-possible-nbc handshake

“Never say good…

Tequila and Lab Rats Saving Diabetics?


Published paper review 1:


Sooo I found this (ahem) “interesting” article on how tequila plants may provide non-threatening sweeteners for diabetics.

Who would have thought that the plant (the agave plant) responsible for making world renowned confidence booster… I mean, alcoholic beverage, tequila, would provide scientists with a compound that not only acts as a safe sweetener for diabetics but it also helps them to reduce their blood glucose level and lose weight?

And people say that tequila is a bad thing…smh
*giggles* …oh bartender!


Cloud 3

So basically, the blue agave plant yields agavins, compounds which exist as a type of fructose sugar, fructan, in their natural forms (not too sweet are we :/ ). They act as dietary fiber and hence are not digested by the human gut, i.e.  the sugar is not absorbed into the blood stream and is not metabolized by humans.

(So you mean ..I can have all the sugary goodness I want without worrying about this going straight to my thighs? Well sign me up! :D).

Leading researchers like Mercedes G. Lόpez have also found that agavins increase the amount of GLP-1 (glucagon like peptide-1) present, which is a hormone responsible for stimulating insulin production while inhibiting glucagon (sugar) release.
Lόpez also points out that agavins help to support the growth of health promoting microbes in the mouth and intestines, also, they help people to feel fuller when ingested which could aid chronically obese persons in not eating more than required.

They’re also inexpensive and have no known side effects on humans with the exception of those who are specifically intolerant to agavin fructan sugars.
Does mean if you drink more tequila all day errday, then you should be in perfect health? WRONG!

I never said tequila contains the active form of wonder compound agavins. According to Lόpez, most of the ethanol in tequila derives from the fermentation of glucose and fructose when the agavin plants are cooked. Due to the conversion of agavins to ethanol, they don’t exist in their natural form as a part of the finished product *ahem* tequila.

Essentially, the basis of this study can be attributed to the results of experiments conducted on lab rats, where agavins were introduced to their diets and compared to diets of lab rats that weren’t given agavins.
The mice that had a diet of agavins showed overall weight loss, a decrease in blood glucose levels and a lower feeding frequency.

Good old lab rats… always taking one for the team.



Taken From:

 “Tequila plant is possible sweetener for diabetics – helps reduce blood sugar, weight”, by: the American Chemical Society,, date posted: 16th March, 2014, date extracted: 7th April, 2014, URL:

Contributors: Thalia, Roi (editor)



ETC Throwback  






Oxygen is one of the most important molecules in biological systems and is required for life to sustain itself. This awesome ability of oxygen stems from its high electronegativity, even though it’s in its diatomic form. Electronegativity is the ability of an element to pull electrons towards itself kind of like a magnet.  The stronger the magnet, the greater the force of attraction it will exert on surrounding metallic materials. It’s the same with electronegativity, the higher it is, the greater its force of attraction on surrounding molecules. Like in the candle example in the video, the flame produced stems from the oxygen, pulling the electrons from the paraffin towards itself. This caused the bonds to break in the paraffin, releasing energy in the process as light and heat.

In biological systems, the concept is the same, albeit in a more controlled manner. Living organisms use energy as a necessity, rather than all the energy being released all willy-nilly like in a combustion reaction. So in most complex living organisms, carbohydrates are the main source of energy. Carbohydrates are a great source of energy, due to the high amount of potential energy contained in its bonds. Just like the paraffin, carbohydrates are combustible and would burn in the presence of oxygen and energy would be released, but, in living organisms, this same process is done in steps by a series of controlled reactions, instead of being so straightforward; And instead of this energy being released in the form of light and heat, this energy is going to be used to form ATP (Adenosine triphosphate).

In the body, the process of making ATP is done by the electron transport chain. This process occurs on the inside of highly folded mitochondria, and the electrons are transported into the mitochondrial by the carrier molecule NAD (Nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide). Once inside of the mitochondria, the NADH+ goes towards a protein complex within the mitochondrial membrane. The protein complex uses the energy lost from the electron in the NADH+ to pump a proton, from the inner membrane to the outer membrane of the mitochondria. The electron travels down a chain of complexes, at each, the energy of the electron is decreasing until it’s in its lowest energy state. And it’s at that energy state where an oxygen molecule accepts low energy electrons to form water. Meanwhile, in the inter-membrane space, a proton gradient is being setup between the inner and outer membrane due to a difference in concentration by proton buildup. The only means of balancing the charge is for the proton to pass through the enzyme ATP synthase. As the ions flow through the ATP synthase channel, the energy they create while passing though is going to be used to bind a phosphate molecule to ADP to form ATP.


*Disclaimer: Although this video is GREAT for giving a person an introduction to the process, and would suit the needs of an A level student, a Tertiary-level student would need a bit…more. This video fails to mention the fact that before oxidative phosphorylation can occur (electron transport chain), substrate level phosphorylation has to happen (Glycolysis and TCA cycle).

Contributors: Le Frenchie, Roi (editor)



DNA Crash?


Youtube video review 1:



Is DNA the most important as well as the most complicated biological molecule that exists?
…Well that’s something to debate over but there is no denying that DNA is super interesting.
DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) stores the genetic instructions which program all our cell activities. It is a 6 billion letter code that provides the instructions to the making of everything that you are.

Each cell in the human body has 46 chromosomes each containing a single DNA molecule. DNA is a nucleic acid and so is RNA. They are polymers meaning that they comprise of many small repeating molecular units called nucleotides forming polynucleotides. To make up a nucleotide you need a phosphate group, 5 carbon sugar, and 1 of the 4 nitrogenous bases Adenine, Thymine, Cytosine and Guanine.


For your information, in eukaryotic organisms DNA doesn’t exist as a solitary polynucleotide, but as a pair of molecules wound tightly together, forming a twisting ladder shape, you know what I’m talking about, a double helix. It’s formed by the hydrogen bonding between nitrogenous bases where adenine bonds with thymine via two hydogen bonds and cytosine bonds to guanine via 3 hydrogen bonds forming what is called base pairs.


I bet you didn’t know that chromosome 1 is the largest of all our chromosomes and a single molecule of DNA in it contains 270 million base pairs which if written down equals 200,000 pages long.

Let’s do the MATH:

Each cell= 46 chromosomes = roughly 6 billion base pairs in a cell

Not to mention we are made up of billions if not trillions of cells ourselves. Work that out math fanatics cause I have a headache just thinking about it!!!

Think about it this way; you’ll need MORE THAN 10,000 GAME OF THRONES books to fill our ENTIRE GENOME!!! (If you trust Hank’s math).
Yeah… we love A Song of Ice and Fire here… Epic fantasy for the win!!


Three major differences between DNA and RNA:

  1. RNA is a single-stranded molecule
  2.  Ribose, the sugar in RNA has one more atom of oxygen than DNA’s deoxyribose.
  3. RNA does not contain thymine. Its fourth nucleotide is the base uracil, so it bonds with adenine instead.

A shocking twist I did not see coming was the fact they LIED TO US!!! Watson and Crick did not discover DNA as we were told nor did they discover that DNA contained genetic information. Circa 1869, a Swiss biologist by the name of Friedrich Miescher, discovered DNA which he then named nuclein (now known as nucleic acid).

Nearly a century later, Rosalind Franklin, a young biophysicist in London, may have been the first to confirm DNA’s helical structure using x-ray diffraction. Also, she figured out that its sugar phosphate backbone exists on the outside of its structure which she shared with Watson and Crick *gasp*.

Hank’s upbeat delivery and quirky stories make this a good watch for even the least science-loving individuals that walk among us (yes, they do exist). The video contains a lot of relevant information that’s explained really nicely for you to understand. I’d recommend this video to anyone with the appreciation for all things awesome, and I’ll admit, it’s really a great “crash course” on DNA.


Green, Hank. “DNA Structure and Replication: Crash Course Biology #10.” Digital video, 2012. (accessed 10 Apr 2014).

Contributors: Chris, Roi (editor)


Final Exam Prep


I don’t know about you guys, but finals are never a walk in the park. More like… a trial by fire… at sword point… So we’ve prepped some multiple choice questions to help you though your battle at the Hot Gates.

This. Is…. Biochem? 😐



What is activation energy?

a)      Minimum amount of energy for a reaction to occur

b)      The highest energy arrangement of atoms intermediate between the structure of the products and reactants.

c)      Energy formed when enzymes bind to substrate to form enzyme substrate complex


What are the final products of the first reaction of glycolysis in the energy investment stage?

i.        Dihydroxyacetone phosphate

ii.       Pyruvate

iii.      Glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate

iv.      3 Phosphoglycerate

a)      (i) & (iv)

b)      (ii) & (iii)

c)      (i) & (iii)

d)      (ii) & (iv)



Nucleic Acids


1) Organic bases can be divided into two groups. What are these two groups?

a)      ribose, deoxyribose

b)      hydrolases, carboxylases

c)      Adinine, guanine

d)      Pyrimidines, purines



Which of the following statements are true about DNA and RNA? :


i)       RNA is less chemically stable than DNA.

ii)       DNA may be temporary and exists for short periods only whilst RNA is permanent

iii)      RNA exists in 3 basic forms whilst DNA exists in one form

iv)     RNA has a double helix whilst DNA has a single helix


a)        i) ii)

b)        i) iii) iv)

c)        i), iii)

d)        ii) iii) iv)



Select the correct multiple answer using ONE of the keys A, B, C, D or E as follows:

The roles of nucleotides are?

I. It is a structural component in enzyme cofactors

II. Acts as an intracellular signal

III. It forms allosteric effectors

IV. It is a building block of nucleic acids


A. I, III and IV

B. IV only

C. III and IV only

D. I, II, III and IV

E. II and IV only




Genomes and Targeting Cancer Treatment.



Published paper review 2:
After noting some unusual results in cancer patient treatment, a team of Swiss researchers for The Stockholm Breast Cancer Group embarked upon a decades-long trial, and subsequently published a study on the “Genotype of metabolic enzymes and the benefit of tamoxifen in postmenopausal breast cancer patients”.

Many of the patients who suffered with breast cancer underwent hormone therapy with tamoxifen. Hope flared, there was a marked reduction in tumors, which would be altogether wonderful news for those suffering from the disease. However, 30% of these patients relapsed with adverse reactions to the tamoxifen treatment.

Looking at the numbers, 30% may seem minor compared to the success stories, but the health of these patients wasn’t something researchers could ignore. What was causing the relapse and how would this affect treatment? It turns out that the culprit was actually polymorphism affecting in both the SULT1A1 gene, and cytochrome P450 2D6 (CYP2D6). Usually, the enzymes CYP2D6 (member of cytochrome D40 system) found in the liver and SULTIA 1 or Sulfrotransferase 1A1 (oh the complicated names!) were seen to metabolize the tamoxifen, increasing its efficiency. However, with polymorphism, there is a change in the placement of the nucleotide in these structures, preventing successful treatment.


From the small sample size of 679 breast cancer patients, 226 were able to provide were fresh frozen tumor tissues for analysis. Scientists sequenced the patients’ DNA which they then examined through polymerase chain reactions along with restriction enzymes. Throughout the study, doses of tamoxifen were given at 40 mg daily, for 2 years with a 10.7 year follow up time for the patients. Talk about a long time just to get some results!

The results were in… and it turns out that patients with the CYP2D6*4 allele showed a lower chance of resistance to tamoxifen therapy and there was a lower chance of risk and resistance seen with those homozygous for (having the same pair alleles for) SULTIA*1.

Further investigation showed that 60% of patients who had a combination of the two had a much lower chance of relapse with tamoxifen. This study, and many like it, changed the face of cancer treatment and drug delivery. Researchers were able to conclude that enzymes can act through metabolism in order to help, or hinder the endocrine treatment in breast cancer patients.  Essentially, it shows that drugs should be targeted not only to a patient’s age and gender, but also to their genetic makeup, in order to deliver more effective treatment and aid in recovery.


Taken From:

Contributors: India, Roi (editor)

GOT Fangirling and Nucleic Acids


Game of Thrones is back!!!




I digress, as much as we’d love to, this isn’t about the fate of Westeros.

ready snow


We’re gonna go back… wayyy back (not really), just to last week’s post : ). So, as you prolly already know, two main examples of nucleic acids that are used in genetic coding as well as in reproduction (the exchange of genetic material) and protein synthesis are DNA (Deoxyribonucleic acid) and RNA (Ribonucleic acid). Nucleic acids are defined as polymers (made up of monomers called nucleotides) that are used to for the genetic information of organisms

– In terms of the structure of a nucleotide it consists of 3 molecules linked together; a 5 carbon sugar, an organic base and phosphoric acid.

-The organic bases that make up the nucleotide strands of DNA are Adenine, Guanine (both purines) and Cytosine, thymine (both pyrimadines). RNA nucleotide stand is made up of these bases except thymine in which case, uracil is instead used as a base. The sequence of along the chain of nucleic acids differs from person-to-person and between species.


It’s within this sequence that information controlling the organism’s development (the genetic information) is contain… Yep, we’re just gonna come right out and say this… Your very lives depend upon it!

A DNA molecule consists of two anti-parallel polynucleotide chains twisted and forming into a double helix, both polynucleotide chains are crossed and linked via intervals that correspond to the nucleotides.

For every complete turn of the DNA helix, there are 10 nucleotides. Basicaly, it’s like a twisted ladder with two uprights that consists of chains made up of alternating sugar and phosphate groups. The rungs in this case act as pairs of bases that stick inwards towards each other.

These bases have the following base pair configurations of A to T and C to G.


dna makeup


-RNA is a single stranded molecule that can exist in 3 forms: as mRNA (messenger RNA), tRNA (transferred RNA) and rRNA (ribosomal RNA). It controls the synthesis of proteins whilst DNA carries the genetic information.

– DNA occurs in the nucleus only, RNA occurs in the nucleus and the cytoplasm.






Did you know that 99.9% of our DNA sequence is the same as that of other human beings! See! We’re all not that different after all! One love, Peace   😀

Interestingly enough, it’s been postulated that humans also share anywhere between 94-99% of DNA with chimps…



Like we said last week, Nucleotides are the molecules which are the main components that composed RNA and DNA. They are Imperative for survival since they are used in enzyme reactions, production of chemical energy and cell signaling (Mason 2007). If you haven’t read that post then now’s your chance.

wink jlaw



DNA: Its nucleotide contains the sugar deoxyribose and one of the bases: cytosine, adenine, guanine, or thymine.

RNA: Its bases include: cytosine, adenine, uracil and guanine.



Nucleic acids are the central molecules of life, encoding all the genetic information necessary for cellular metabolism and replication. Nucleic acids are long, thread like polymers whose monomers are linear array of nucleotides (Blackburn 2006).




Around 1870, Johann Friedrich Miescher first isolated DNA. After finding a weakly acidic substance in human white blood cells’ nuclei he dubbed it “nuclein” which was later separated into protein and nucleic acid components.


Nucleic acids are major components of chromosomes


Unlike proteins, nucleic acids don’t contain sulphur.


Nucleic acids found within a chromosome are called deoxyribonucleic acids (DNA) while those with a ribose sugar as backbones are called ribonucleic acids (RNA).


Single-ringed bases are called pyrimidines and their two-ringed counterparts are called purines.

cytidine, guanosine and uridine are N-glycosides of ribose that make up RNA.

Bacteria and other single-celled organisms don’t have well defined nuclei, but their only chromosome is associated with certain proteins in a “nucleoid”.

Bacterial DNA generally is of a makeup and structure similar to that of more complex multicellular organisms.





References: Chemistry. “Nucleic Acid Facts – Quick Facts about Nucleic Acids.” n.d.. (accessed 6 Apr 2014). “structure.” n.d.. (accessed 5 Apr 2014).
Blackburn, G Michael, et al. Nucleic Acids in Chemistry and Biology. Cambridge: The Royal Society of Chemistry, 2006.

Unknown. “Jennifer Lawrence reaction gifs.” Digital image, 2013. (accessed 5 Apr 2014). “Nucleic Acids.” n.d.. (accessed 5 April 2014).


Contributors: Thalia, Chris, Roi (editor)