Friday, December 09, 2011

Idea that will not work

Studying biochemistry: Sudden idea came to mind. What if we could take all the enzymes involved in glycolysis, make it a pill, and eat that with every meal? Then the sugars will get broken down inside our stomach and we won't get insulin release and therefore it'll be like we never ate!

But then I realized problems...

  • Those enzymes probably aren't designed to work in the acidic environment of the stomach
  • Even if they worked there'd be no NAD+ in the stomach 
  • And if we added NAD+ as part of the pill, I'm pretty sure I read an article saying that NADH can be absorbed through the intestines along with other small particles (like acetyl CoA)
  • So basically cells will still have access to the energy; they just don't have to do it themselves
  • Speaking of which there's probably no ATP in the stomach either, so that's something else that needs to be in the pill
  • Oh, and the enzymes will get degraded by proteases found in the stomach... because you know... digestion involves the degradation of proteins...
So then I thought, if a pill doesn't work, what if we made it an injection of sorts? So instead of an insulin injection, it'll be one full of everything you need for glycolysis! This will reduce blood glucose levels immediately and so insulin will not get released from the liver!

But more issues:
  • NADH in the blood... is that normal? Pretty sure it'll mess with pH levels
  • Speaking of pH levels, the blood has a different pH from cell cytosols so the enzymes won't be fully active
  • Also acetyl CoA can probably get transported through cells... Not 100% sure about that but it seems like something that's plausible 
So after talking with fellow science students about it the new idea that came up was an injection of a vesicle that had:
  • GLUT4 transporter: more glucose outside vesicle than inside; glucose flows in
  • Hexokinase: adds phosphate to glucose to trap it in vesicle while encouraging more glucose in due to concentration gradient
Then my friend told me that it didn't have to be so complicated and that we could just find something to bind to glucose in the blood and ensure it doesn't get into cells. But then the issue is how to get rid of this glucose-binded molecule since it'll likely be too big for filtration at the kidneys.

We went on brainstorming and I was quite pleased that from our simple undergraduate level of biochemistry understanding we were actually able to come up with so many ideas. It really did feel like what science was all about. Sure it may seem like we're just memorizing random useless information at times, but it's the application of all the information into potentially applicable ideas that really is the end result. 

I remember my summer research prof telling me, "No one likes doing the repetitive work, but we really have to take some time once in a while to remember why we're doing the work and to think of possibilities and come up with ideas. And you can't do that unless you do the work and get the results first."

No comments:

Post a Comment