What is the difference between biochemical, pharmaceutical, and diagnostic chemical reactions in healthcare? What is a specific example that exists for each of these chemical reaction types above...

What is the difference between biochemical, pharmaceutical, and diagnostic chemical reactions in healthcare?

What is a specific example that exists for each of these chemical reaction types above and why might it be of importance to healthcare professionals?

Please provide reference links if you can.

Expert Answers
txmedteach eNotes educator| Certified Educator

It looks like NCChemist summarized the overall concepts pretty well regarding these types of reactions. In the medical field, you might look at these from a different perspective: where these reactions are happening and what their purpose is.

Biochemical reactions can be seen a few ways, but they would be the most general set of reactions you deal with in biology. They involve some sort of molecule being modified in some way to suit a biologic purpose. For example, you might see simple reactions, like the formation of a peptide bond, as above. You might also see many reactions pictured at once, as would be the case in a chemical cascade, such as glycolysis, involving many reactants and catalysts (enzymes). 

Pharmaceutical reactions is a subset of biochemical reactions, where we use some sort of exogenous--from outside of the body--chemical to change some aspect of a biochemical reaction. Many of these reactions are primarily to change enzyme catalysis rates or to trigger a chemical cascade that produces a desirable effect. For example, the Beta-1 receptor is involved in a chemical cascade that results in increased work of the heart. It is activated by adrenergic compounds, like epinephrine. Beta-blockers, like metoprolol, block the location that epinephrine would normally bind, so the beta receptor is unable to trigger the set of reactions that result in a higher workload for the heart. 

Diagnostic reactions are a different subset of biochemical reactions that can be induced using exogenous chemicals. Usually these reactions occur outside the body, as you usually want to measure a product of the reaction specifically, quickly, and in a way that can be quantified in an absolute sense. The more specific your measurement, the less likely you will have an error. The quicker your measurement, the more quickly you can act on the result. The better you can quantify the result, the more likely you are to make a good decision based on the result. Because of the desire to measure a response in this fashion, these reactions usually are carried out in the lab under very precise conditions. A good example of tests that meet these requirements are the basic metabolic panel, which measures levels of different solutes in the blood and can provide a wealth of information on a patient's status.

ncchemist eNotes educator| Certified Educator

We are looking at biochemical, pharmaceutical, and medical diagnostic chemical reactions.

Biochemical reactions are chemical reactions that naturally occur in living organisms.  They involve different biomolecules interacting with each other to create new biochemicals for a specific use in the body.  The major classes of biochemicals are proteins, nucleic acids, lipids (fats), and sugars (carbohydrates).  An example is two amino acids forming an amide bond to create a dipeptide and losing a water molecule.  These amino acid chains that form this way create the vast number of proteins found in the human body.

glycine + valine --> glycine-valine + H2O

Pharmaceutical chemical reactions are the result of a man-made pharmaceutical interacting with a biomolecule in the human body.  Most classic pharmaceuticals are small molecules with a molecular weight between 200 and 1000 that interact with specific receptors in the body.  An example is aspirin.  It transfers an acetyl group from the aspirin molecule to a serine amino acid residue of a protein enzyme called a COX inhibitor.  In reaction form that would be:

aspirin + COX --> salicylic acid + COX-OAc

Finally, a diagnostic chemical reaction is a chemical reaction as part of a healthcare diagnostic test, ususally occurring outside of the human body in a medical instrument.  A diagnostic test is a test that helps a doctor make a medical diagnosis for a patient.  An example is the test to measure the blood levels of serum albumin, the most commonly found protein in human blood serum.  The dye bromocresol green binds with albumin, thus forming a colored complex.  The light absorption of this complex is measured with a spectrophotometer to determine the concentration of albumin in the blood sample. 

albumin + bromocresol green --> albumin-bromocresol green complex

All of these test are helpful for the healthcare community.  The more scientists understand the chemistry of the human body in all aspects, the better they can help patients.