Deoxyribose is the main building block of DNA and is found in every nucleotide that makes up the long chain of genetic information. The compound is often referred to as DNA itself, because it makes up so much of the structure that is found in every cell. Deoxyribose is partially where the name for DNA, which is deoxyribonucleic acid, derives from.
A deoxyribose is different from a ribose because it is missing one oxygen atom and does not contain the alcohol group. The absence of these parts and the missing 2' hydroxyl group makes it possible for the DNA to take its well known double helix shape. This also makes it possible for the DNA strands to be compacted in the core of the cells. The cells being compacted in this manner makes it possible for each individual cell to carry a copy of the organisms genetic material. These copies are used in the cell division and the processes known as mitosis, meiosis, transcription and translation.
Without the copies and compressed DNA strands, the body's ability to grow, heal and replace dead cells would not be possible. Wounds that could not be healed would leave the body open for infection and for disease. It would also make an organism unable to reproduce because reproduction relies upon cell replication.