Sweeter than a woman’s kiss :) Glucose is the most important sugar in biology!

Sweeter than a woman’s kiss 🙂 Glucose is the most important sugar in biology! The name comes from the Greek glukus (γλυκύς), meaning “sweet”. The suffix “-ose” denotes a sugar.

Biochemistry: Carbs are polymers of glucose, either exclusively (starch, glycogen) or in combination with other simple sugars like fructose and galactose (found in table sugar and milk sugar). These polymers are broken down during digestion before being absorbed in the intestine. Insulin is the signal for clearing glucose from blood into the liver, fat or muscle, where it is converted back into a polymer (glycogen).

Energetics: Glucose is completely broken down to carbon dioxide and water by cellular respiration: C6H12O6 +6O2 → 6CO2 and 6H2O. This process makes ATP, which is then used to power all energy requiring processes in the body. One gram of glucose yields about 3.75 kilocalories of energy.

When your muscles can’t get hold of oxygen fast enough, as in strenuous exercise, glucose is broken down only partially to lactate (“-ate” denotes acid). The old view of lactate as “bad” has been revised drastically. We now know that lactate can fuel neurons to establish memory and that muscles actively burn lactate in the mitochondria to make ATP.

History: Emil Fischer, a German chemist, received the 1902 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for describing the structure of glucose.

Cool Science: Professor Jin Zhang, a Chemical and Biochemical Engineering professor from the University of Western Ontario, has engineered nanoparticles into contact lenses that react with the glucose molecules contained in tears.When sugar levels rise or fall in a diabetic, a chemical reaction causes the lens to change color, allowing the wearer to adjust their glucose accordingly. (Minor problem: wearer has to check mirror frequently and risk being considered vain!)

Geeky Confessions: I play this song to my first year PhD and medical student class before I talk about glucose transporters. Not all of them get the connection to the old Archies song (sigh). It was the 1969 hit single of the year. Here it is, tambourine and all: http://youtu.be/VwMH0Xzs0IU

This song is for Martha E Fay, who ate birthday cake for breakfast today.

For #ScienceSunday curated by Allison Sekuler and Robby Bowles .

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31 Responses to Sweeter than a woman’s kiss :) Glucose is the most important sugar in biology!


  1. I’m a diabetic so I probably shouldn’t watch the video!

  2. Rajini Rao says:


    Glenn Costello , I’m sorry that the honeymoon is over for you (as in song ending, check it out). 😦

  3. Gregory Esau says:


    You are the bomb, Rajini Rao !! Thanks for that post, and keep em coming!!

  4. Rich Pollett says:


    Excellent post, thanks. Hehheh The cool science part and idea of looking vain by checking the color of the contacts, reminds me of the fact that in a mirror, the optics conspire so that you can only kiss yourself on the lips. ><


  5. Im definitely sharing this song with my students!


  6. You’re sweeter than a woman’s kiss, because I need you for glycolysis…


  7. LOL, my friend, I used to get high on alcohol, now the only thing I have left is..Glucose.

  8. Rajini Rao says:


    Too bad, michael delaney ..as Ogden Nash famously said, “Candy is dandy but liquor is quicker” 🙂


  9. Primary role of insulin is to stop gluconeogenesis in latest opinion as far as I know, not to clear sugar from blood.


    Very cool info about contact lenses.


  10. ammmm…maam can u plz tell me what actually happens when we say that we hav a headache..?

  11. Andre Kydd says:


    That contact lens idea is fascinating! If checking your eyes in the mirror isn’t enough, how about having a smart-phone app that more precisely reads that color change of the contact lens?


    If that doesn’t work, I’m sure there’s extra inspiration from those color-changing ants =)

  12. Rajini Rao says:


    Well, hellooo Andre Kydd , welcome to G+ 🙂 A smart phone app sounds so practical, how about persuading someone to stare into one’s eyes (preferably, romantically)? 😉

  13. Rajini Rao says:


    Biochemically accurate mood rings, love it Tania Moya ! Everyone, remember that the idea was born right here 😉

  14. J Huntemann says:


    Nothing is Sweeter than a woman’s kiss 🙂

  15. Rajini Rao says:


    J Huntemann , finally.. about time someone said it! 🙂


  16. Yeah lol….I seriously miss the liquor.


  17. What if the contact lens tints the vision of the wearers to notify them of the increase or decrease in glucose levels? I’m sure that’s possible, and no need for a mirror 😉


    It is also good to know that ADPs are not always bad. Just remember to breathe!

  18. DaFreak says:


    I am never going to hear sugar, sugar again without thinking about glucose and I don’t care. ^^


    Tania Moya Good luck because you will be fighting the japanese who have a similar idea but use neuroheadsets to register mood > NeuroWear “Necomimi” – Mind-controlled Cat Ears!

  19. Rajini Rao says:


    Koen De Paus , people would be a lot easier to figure out if we all wore mind controlled cat ears. 🙂 P.S. Don’t hate me when you find that you can’t get “glucose glucose” out of your head 🙂

  20. Blake Caves says:


    I really do appreciate these posts, as I have said before, they touch on issues that I have studied before but always enjoy. My current studies have deviated from this type of material, and I like seeing it. Thank you again.


  21. Tania Moya I love your idea but I dont think I’d want to wear them. I work hard to not wear my feelings on my sleeve so wearing them on my eyes wouldn’t be good either!

  22. DaFreak says:


    Tania Moya “Perhaps someday the same idea can work with sweat and people could have real mood rings…” I Guess I missed the last part and just decided to stop reading right there because it sounded like a good idea. ^^


    It should be possible to have the same ring monitor hormone levels and whatnot. I was assuming that you could pick up a person’s emotional state from those levels or from the total amount of “junk” that they have floating around in their blood/sweat but I could be making a fool of myself because I have no idea whether that is even remotely related to reality. :p

  23. Rajini Rao says:


    Actually, Koen De Paus , it should be possible to monitor a wide range of chemicals or hormones that relate to mood. Also, check out what can be done using the same glucose sensing technology:


    “Taking advantage of the wide availability and low cost of the pocket-sized personal glucose meter—used worldwide by diabetes sufferers—we demonstrate a method to use such meters to quantify non-glucose targets, ranging from a recreational drug (cocaine, 3.4 µM detection limit) to an important biological cofactor (adenosine, 18 µM detection limit), to a disease marker (interferon-gamma of tuberculosis, 2.6 nM detection limit) and a toxic metal ion (uranium, 9.1 nM detection limit). The method is based on the target-induced release of invertase from a functional-DNA–invertase conjugate. The released invertase converts sucrose into glucose, which is detectable using the meter. The approach should be easily applicable to the detection of many other targets through the use of suitable functional-DNA partners (aptamers, DNAzymes or aptazymes).” http://www.nature.com/nchem/journal/v3/n9/full/nchem.1092.html

  24. DaFreak says:


    That is one hell of a multi-functional gizmo. ^^


    What do you think the chances are of a variety of medical devices to undergo a technological evolution similar to a cellphone? Cellphones pretty much consumed everything from mp3 players, watches, callendars and cameras to phones and web browsers. I’ve heard quite a few futurists mention how this evolution has already begun in the medical world and will over time turn the variety of machines in use now into something comparable to the start trek tricorder.


    Do you think we will see a one device does all for doctors in the near future? I imagine something that can take blood samples, scan for fractures and do echolocation, analyze DNA, … Or am giving into my sci-fi nut side for thinking this will be possible in the next 10 years? I do sort of know you can’t predict the future, although I wouldn’t put it beyond you 😉 – but i was wondering what your thoughts were on this matter.

  25. Rajini Rao says:


    Hey Koen De Paus , sorry for the late response. As for those Star Trek tricorders, I think the technology is developing at a fine pace..I see the papers appear in journals and they are truly astounding..at the interface of biology and engineering. The question is whether there is an economical driving force to take the innovations into the market. I don’t know how many of these gizmos make it to the wards and if the climate is favorable for small entrepreneurs to get enough start up funds and show enough promise to get bought out by the industry giants! Technology-wise, progress is pretty astounding, IMO.

  26. DaFreak says:


    I’ve seen some pretty impressive tablet use that allowed doctors to access all sorts of data on the fly and for example manipulate MRI scans in 3D at the patients bedside but doctors aren’t really adopting these on mass. I hope that many wont have negative feelings about reeducating themselves regarding the use of new tools and refreshing their knowledge on genetic because that could also be a serious show stopper on the route to personalized medicine.


    Another fear I have is that the same thing that happened in software is now also happening in biomedicine. People collecting patents, not pushing anything to market because research and development is expensive but just charge anyone who would want make use of it. That puts a serious break on innovation as well. Only time will tell I guess but like you said; you hear about technological breakthroughs all the time but how this will translate to the market… Exciting times to say the least. ^^

  27. Rajini Rao says:


    I have first hand knowledge that upcoming generations of physicians are going to be well versed with technology..given the heavy use of video game rooms at the medical school lounge 😉 Actually, the older docs I know are pretty cool with technology too.

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