Immunology

Shellfish allergies: can they be treated?

Seafood platters? Bouillabaisse? Arroz de Marisco? Seafood paella? Oysters Rockefeller? Lobster Thermidor? Dining out with friends, a romantic meal, celebrating Christmas or a holiday on a wind-swept coast with these seafood ...

Genetics

New skeletal disease found and explained

Researchers at Karolinska Institutet in Sweden have discovered a new and rare skeletal disease. In a study published in the journal Nature Medicine, they describe the molecular mechanism of the disease, in which small RNA ...

Alzheimer's disease & dementia

Possible pathway to new therapy for Alzheimer's disease

Researchers have uncovered an enzyme and a biochemical pathway they believe may lead to the identification of drugs that could inhibit the production of beta-amyloid protein, the toxic initiator of Alzheimer's disease (AD).

Neuroscience

Simple drug combination creates new neurons from neighboring cells

A simple drug cocktail that converts cells neighboring damaged neurons into functional new neurons could potentially be used to treat stroke, Alzheimer's disease, and brain injuries. A team of researchers at Penn State identified ...

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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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