Medical research

Strawberries may be key to developing an insulin pill

More than 30 million Americans suffer from diabetes and must inject themselves with insulin two to four times daily. Researchers have been looking for ways to administer the drug orally, and researchers at Carnegie Mellon ...

Diseases, Conditions, Syndromes

People's initial immune response to dengue fever analyzed

Researchers have come one step closer to understanding how the immune system responds to acute dengue fever, a disease that has affected hundreds of thousands of people in Southeast Asia this summer alone. In a study published ...

Diseases, Conditions, Syndromes

Gut microbiome composition could make diarrhea less likely

Antibiotics are known to upset the balance of bacteria in the intestinal tract. In some cases, antibiotics can cause the bacterium Clostridium difficile (C. difficile) to overgrow wildly, causing diarrhea and, in severe cases, ...

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Small molecule

In pharmacology and biochemistry, a small molecule is an organic compound that is not a polymer. Biopolymers such as nucleic acids, proteins, and polysaccharides (such as starch or cellulose) are not small molecules, although their constituent monomers—ribo- or deoxyribonucleotides, amino acids, and monosaccharides, respectively—are often considered to be. Very small oligomers are also usually considered small molecules, such as dinucleotides, peptides such as the antioxidant glutathione, and disaccharides such as sucrose.

While small molecules almost always have a lower molecular weight than biopolymers, a very small protein with a defined fold, such as the artificial ten-amino-acid protein chignolin[1], can indeed be smaller than some exceptionally large small molecules such as triglycerides.

Small molecules can have a variety of biological functions, serving as cell signalling molecules, as tools in molecular biology, as drugs in medicine, and in countless other roles. These compounds can be natural (such as secondary metabolites) or artificial (such as antiviral drugs); they may have a beneficial effect against a disease (such as FDA approved drugs) or may be detrimental (such as teratogens and carcinogens).

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