Enzymes in Medicine

Digestive EnzymesBlood tests can provide an effective assessment of a person's medical condition. An analysis of a blood serum for levels of certain enzymes can be used to confirm a preliminary diagnosis based on the disease symptoms.

A great example of how this works is when a person has a heart attack. If the blood supply to the heart is restricted some of the heart muscle cells will die. The dead cells release enzymes into the bloodstream. Simple blood tests, called enzyme assays, can be done to measure the amounts of certain enzymes in the blood. These tests can be very precise and specific.

The elevated blood serum concentration of certain enzymes indicates the particular organ that is of concern. A physician can differentiate between different conditions by considering the relative increase of certain enzymes over others.

Enzyme replacement therapy is also very beneficial to medicine and can be used to treat certain diseases like Gaucher's disease. Gaucher's disease is a genetic disorder that results in the deficiency of the enzyme glucocerebrosidase. Without this enzyme a build up of macrophages occurs in the liver, spleen, and bone marrow. The cells in these organs eventually build up excess lipids which can not be metabolized and displace healthy normal cells in bone marrow. The symptoms of Gaucher's disease include severe anemia, thrombocytopenia, and hepatosplenomegaly. Bone deterioration and secondary fractures are also possible.

Enzyme replacement therapy has become increasingly beneficial to people who have suffered from diseases that have had no cure. There is hope that the use of enzymes for analysis and therapy will provide greater medical knowledge and help to those with many incurable diseases.