Glossary

Quick reference for some of the science terms you may find on this site!

Antibody: a protein produced by certain types of immune cells, called differentiated B cells, that bind to a particular antigen. Also called immunoglobulin.

Antigen: a substance that elicits an immune response by binding to the receptors on immune cells or antibodies.

Boiling point: the temperature at which a compound changes state from liquid to gas.

Boiling point elevation: an example of a colligative property. The boiling point of a solvent becomes higher when solutes are added to it.

Colligative property: a physical property of a chemical (solvent) that is altered when adding a solute; only dependent on the AMOUNT of solute added, not the type of solute added.

Endocrine gland: a ductless gland that secretes hormones directly into the fluid between cells, from which the hormones can then diffuse into the bloodstream.

Endocrine system: the internal system of communication involving hormones, the ductless glands that secrete hormones, and the molecular receptors on or in target cells that respond to hormones; functions in concert with the nervous system to effet internal regulation of the body.

Freezing point (aka melting point): the temperature at which a compound changes state from liquid to solid.

Freezing point depression: an example of a colligative property. The freezing point of a solvent decreases when solute is added to it.

Gel electrophoresis: a technique that uses a high-voltage electric current passing through a polymeric gel, such as agarose, to separate nucleic acids and proteins based on their mass and charge.

Genetic profile: an individual’s unique set of genetic markers.

Genome: the genetic material of an organism; the entire compliment of an organism’s DNA, both the coding and non-coding regions.

Glass transition temperature (Tg): the temperature at which a polymer goes from a flexible, rubbery type polymer to a hard, glassy type polymer.

Hormones: chemicals secreted by an organism’s body to act on different parts of the body. Long distance signalers.

Immune cells: the cell types that make up an animal body’s immune system.

Immune system: an animal body’s system of defenses against agents that cause disease.

Lymphocyte: a type of white blood cell that mediates immune responses. The two main classes are B cells and T cells.

Macrophage: a cell that destroys microbes.

Mitochondrial DNA: DNA found in the cell organelles, mitochondria. This is inherited matrilineally.

Pharmacodynamics: how a drug interacts with the target; how and where does a drug work in the body.

Pharmacokinetics: how does the body impact the drug; how the drug is absorbed, distributed, metabolised, and excreted.

Plasma: the liquid part of the blood in which all of the blood cells are suspended.

Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR): a technique used to amplify DNA.

Red blood cells: the cells in the blood that transport oxygen to body tissues.

Short tandem repeats (STR): Simple sequences of DNA containing multiple tandemly repeated units of two to five nucleotides. Variations act as genetic markers for genetic profiling.

Solution: a homogenous mixture made of only one phase.

Solute: the dissolved substance in any solution

Solvent: the substance that does the dissolving in a solution. Usually a liquid, but can also be solid or gas.

White blood cells: immune cells

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