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BGM3064 : Applied Biochemistry

  • Offered for Year: 2020/21
  • Module Leader(s): Professor Martin Noble
  • Lecturer: Dr David Bolam, Professor Jeremy Lakey, Dr Andrew Knight, Professor Christopher Dennison, Dr Cole Sims, Professor Bert van den Berg
  • Owning School: Biomedical, Nutritional and Sports Scien
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 1 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0


As biochemists, we are interested in how chemical processes are linked to biological phenomena. For instance the replication of an organism’s genome requires the formation of a polymer of nucleic acid building blocks, linked together by phosphodiester bonds. But biochemistry has a greater role to play in society than just being a branch of the life sciences that is studied in University class rooms and in academics’ research labs. For instance, biochemistry has real-world applications in the maintenance of good health and in combatting disease, roles in the production of biofuels, in nano-circuitry and in bio-sensing and in the genetic modification of organisms to understand cellular processes and to treat complex diseases. The overall aim of this module is to introduce to students how biochemistry can be applied to solve real world problems and to provide experience, guidance and support for those considering a career in the greater biotechnology sector.

Outline Of Syllabus

The module is designed to demonstrate various ways in which biochemistry can be applied to solving some real-world problems. First we will discover how biochemistry can be applied in the production of biopharmaceuticals aka biologics. For instance, the breast cancer drug Herceptin is a good example of a biologic - Herceptin is a monoclonal antibody that specifically inhibits a dysregulated plasma membrane-bound receptor tyrosine kinase, HER2. The role of antibodies in general in an applied sense will also be covered. The module will also introduce the role of biochemistry in nutraceuticals, dietary supplements that provide health benefits such as improved well-being or the prevention of chronic diseases and how glycan degrading enzymes can be used in the production of bioethanol. Further taught material will look at how metalloproteins can be adapted to be used in biofuel cells, in the oxidation of methane and as biosensors, and how membrane proteins have utility as biosensors, in nanoelectronics, and in the sequencing of DNA. We will also consider how genome editing can be used to re-write the genomic information in an individual cell and how this technology might be used to treat complex hereditary disorders. Finally, how the unmet need for new antibiotics is being addressed will form the introduction to a series of lectures on modern approaches to drug discovery, using structure-, in silico- and fragment-based approaches to the same end, i.e. the development of highly effective and selective new pharmaceuticals.

Teaching Methods

Module leaders are revising this content in light of the Covid 19 restrictions.
Revised and approved detail information will be available by 17 August.

Assessment Methods

Module leaders are revising this content in light of the Covid 19 restrictions.
Revised and approved detail information will be available by 17 August.

Reading Lists