Shrinking a medical lab to fit on a fingertip

Identifying a patient's viral infection or diagnosing a blood disorder usually requires a lab and skilled technicians. But researchers at Princeton University have developed a new technology that goes a long way toward replacing ...

How nerve cells control misfolded proteins

Researchers have identified a protein complex that marks misfolded proteins, stops them from interacting with other proteins in the cell, and directs them toward disposal. In collaboration with the neurology department at ...

Toxin-spewing bacteria decoded

Scientists at Emory University School of Medicine have identified a central regulator of toxin production in the bacterium C. difficile, the most common cause of healthcare-associated infections in the United States. C. difficile ...

Study shows first evidence bacterial-induced apoptosis in algae

A new study by UAlberta biologists shows the first evidence of apoptosis, or programmed cell death in algae. The outcomes have broad-reaching implications, from the development of targeted antibiotics to the production of ...

Biosensor may provide better cancer diagnosis

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) researchers have developed a new biological sensor that could help clinicians better diagnose cancer and epilepsy.

Scientists discover a potential strategy to treat influenza A

A team of researchers from Scripps Research and Janssen Research & Development LLC has discovered an orally active small molecule that neutralizes influenza A group 1 viruses, the most common flu strains. Scientists uncovered ...

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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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