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The Biochemistry of Apoptosis - Essay Example

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The Biochemistry of Apoptosis [Author] [Institution] The Biochemistry of Apoptosis The term apoptosis is a term which is used to describe the normal death of a living cell in living organisms. This is a normal and constant process since the living organisms function when new cells are born and they generate and the old cells or selected cells die…
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Download file to see previous pages The term apoptosis can’t be confused with the term necrosis which refers to the death of a cell due to some disease or infection. Basically, apoptosis is a part of the functioning of the cell in an organism. When these functional processes are incomplete, it can lead to the occurring of tumors such as benign and malignant. Every day, about 50 to 70 billion cells die because of apoptosis in an average adult. For the children, approximately 20 to 30 billion cells die each day. Research has also increased since the past two decades on apoptosis and its importance has become a biological phenomenon as the defective processes have been resulted in a variety of diseases. Excessiveness of apoptosis causes atrophy and an insufficient amount of processes can result in uncontrollable cell proliferation such as cancer (Taylor, 2006, p. 138). Apoptosis usually has several distinct stages. The cell starts to shape into a round in the first stage of the process due to the protein present inside the cell being eaten by enzymes that are active. In the next stage, the DNA which is in the nucleus comes apart and starts to shrink. Consequently, the membrane that surrounds the nucleus also begins to degrade and does not form the usual layer then. Since the cell nucleus is not protected anymore, the DNA breaks down in uneven fragments. This makes the nucleus break down into several bodies that has uneven values of the DNA. Blebbing is the process under which the cell itself goes through and its parts begin the break down. Finally, the cell breaks down into pieces completely and it is then consumed by the small cells called phagocytes. If this last step of the phagocytic digestion is not completed in the process, it can cause danger. The cell fragments that are left undigested accumulate in the body and it is shown that they can cause death in mouse embryos and mouse neonates (Green, 2011, p. 37). Apoptosis occurs because of two types of signals, intrinsic and extrinsic. Intrinsic signals are those that occur inside a cell and extrinsic are those that occur outside the cell. When it occurs because of the intrinsic signals, it may be because of the lack of sufficient nutrition provided to the cell or the damage to the DNA present in the nucleus. The extrinsic signals occur as a result of a responsive virus or due to some treatments such as chemotherapy. The cell may also sometimes initiate the process itself in order to fight a virus like HIV. The study of apoptosis has however, become very important as it leads to the understanding of the cell death and how the process works. This helps in the further study about the stem cells and their implications in medicine. Philosophers had spent many years in searching the meaning of life, but in the recent decade, the cell biologists have become more interested in the meaning of death. As mentioned earlier, apoptosis is described as the collapse of a cell after many steps of process. These observations were made in the 1972 but they were underestimated and their importance was ignored for many years. But in the present day, apoptosis is implied in the biological processes that range from the embryogenesis to ageing and from the normal tissue homeostasis to the human diseases, and has also become a focal point in the biomedical research. As we talk about the biological mechanism of the term apoptosis, ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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