Basics of Biology

This chapter provides basics of biology and introduces the necessary terminology and concepts of biology used in this book. The chapter is written primarily for those unfamiliar with biological concepts or those wishing to refresh their background in this subject. The chapter will also serve as a source of vocabulary of relevant biological terms.

The focus of this chapter is on building a molecular understanding of biological structures and their relation to biological functions. A main focus of modern biology and the new frontiers of genomics, proteomics, and bioinfor-matics are derived from this understanding and from profiling of diseases at the molecular level (Chapters 10 and 11). Such an understanding can lead to new and effective drug treatments, which are customized for the patient and are based on molecular profiling using an individual's genetic makeup.

Light-matter interaction, which is the basis for optically probing structure and function at cellular and tissue levels (see bioimaging in Chapters 7 and 8) as well for the light-activated photodynamic therapy of cancer (Chapter 12) and other diseases; benefits from a molecular understanding of cellular and tissue structures and functions. The topics of biosensing (Chapter 9), a hotly pursued area in view of possible threats of bioterrorism and constantly emerging new microbial infections, bioimaging, and multiple analyte detection using microarray technology (Chapter 10), rely heavily on molecular recognition of biological species.

This chapter starts with the description of a cell. It describes the various structural components of the cell and their functions. An important part of a living organism is the diversity of cells that are present in various organs to produce different functions. Some important types of cells that are relevant to this book are introduced.

Next, the chapter provides a description of molecular building blocks and their assembling to form the major macromolecular components of a cell. These include nucleic acids, proteins, carbohydrates, and lipids. A description of important cellular processes then follows.

Introduction to Biophotonics, by Paras N. Prasad

ISBN: 0-471-28770-9 Copyright © 2003 John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

The next higher level of hierarchy in a biological system is a tissue. The organization of a tissue in terms of assembling of cells and utilizing extracellular components is described. A major focus of photobiology (Chapter 6) is interaction of light with tissues, where the concepts of this section will help.

Finally, the chapter concludes with an introduction to tumors and cancers.

Further references on cellular and tissue structures and functions are books by Albert et al. (1994) and by Lodish et al. (2000). For biochemical aspects that deal with chemical building blocks, biosynthesis, enzyme catalysis, and cell energy production, suggested references are books by Horton et al. (2002), Stryer (1995), Lohniger (1970), and Voet et al. (2002). General chemical principles are covered in a book by Solomon (1987).

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