Researchers develop thermo-responsive protein hydrogel

Imagine a perfectly biocompatible, protein-based drug delivery system durable enough to survive in the body for more than two weeks and capable of providing sustained medication release. An interdisciplinary research team ...

Study probes interplay of proteins in type 2 diabetes

A hallmark of age-related diseases such as Parkinson's disease, type 2 diabetes, or Alzheimer's disease is the abnormal clumping of proteins in cells. In people with these conditions, these protein clumps can result in irregular ...

Closing the gap: A two-tier mechanism for epithelial barrier

Scientists from Japan's National Institute for Physiological Sciences and their collaborators report in a new study published in the Journal of Cell Biology that the epithelial barrier is composed of two molecular systems ...

Tracing the evolution of vision in fruit flies

The function of the visual photopigment rhodopsin and its action in the retina to facilitate vision is well understood. However, there remain questions about other biological functions of this family of proteins (opsins) ...

Physiological mechanisms leading to enterovirus opening revealed

Enteroviruses are one of the most common human pathogens leading to high number of acute and chronic infections worldwide. The physiological events leading to successful enterovirus infection are still poorly understood. ...

Graphene nanoflakes: A new tool for precision medicine

Chemists funded by the SNSF have created a new compound for flexible drug delivery that specifically targets prostate cancer cells. Incorporating four different molecules, the compound prevents tumor cells from multiplying, ...

Revolutionising the CRISPR method

Everyone's talking about CRISPR-Cas. This biotechnological method offers a relatively quick and easy way to manipulate single genes in cells, meaning they can be precisely deleted, replaced or modified. Furthermore, in recent ...

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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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