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Chapter

Cover Chemical Aspects of Biosynthesis

Ecological chemistry  

This chapter reviews the use of secondary metabolites as mediators of interactions between organisms and the identification of inter- and intra-species interactions known as ecological chemistry. It assesses speculation on the origins of the main secondary metabolic pathways wherein secondary metabolites that are produced by plants and insects arose in response to the continually changing interactions that occur between species. It also discusses how plants and insects have been co-evolving for millions of years. This resulted in plants developing biosynthetic pathways that produce toxic or distasteful compounds. The chapter mentions how insects have devised means of overcoming the defences of plants, even using their deterrent chemicals for their own purposes. It notes subtle changes in the levels of particular enzymes. These alter the structure or quantity of a secondary metabolite and lead to an improvement in the survival prospects of the producer species.

Chapter

Cover An Introduction to Medicinal Chemistry

Anticancer agents  

This chapter introduces cancer cells which have defects in the normal regulatory controls governing cell growth and division. These arise from mutations resulting in the activation of oncogenes and the inactivation of tumour suppression genes. The chapter describes defects in signalling pathways that are commonly found in cancer cells, stimulating cell growth and division that are a result of the overproduction of a crucial protein in the pathway or the production of an abnormal protein. It also shows how the production of regulatory proteins that suppress cell growth and division is suppressed in many cancers. The chapter talks about cancer cells which can have intrinsic or acquired resistance to anticancer drugs. It explains how resistance may be due to poor uptake of the drug, increased production of the target protein, mutations that prevent the drug binding to its target, alternative metabolic pathways, or efflux systems that expel drugs from the cell.