Gene technologies allow the study and alteration of gene function in order to better understand organism function and to design new industrial and medical processes.
The detailed content for this topic is often slightly varied by awarding organisations, so it is important to check specifications carefully as to what the exact requirements are.
There are underlying principles that all specifications will cover in terms of the biological concepts of recombinant DNA technology.
There are also ethical, social and possibly financial issues involved with this topic. Consequently exam questions often include questions on advantages and disadvantages of particular technologies, or ask students to evaluate ethical concerns. Frequently with this topic students are presented with case studies or other information and asked questions on this stimulus material. There are a lot of new terms in this topic which students need to be confident in using.
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Links and Resources
These case studies/worksheets were designed specifically for post-16 students. They are a mix of two topics: inheritance and gene technologies. It would be possible to separate the gene technologies activities/questions, but the topics work very well together with the contexts provided.
Teachers could use these worksheets and questions with students without making any changes to them.
The resource also includes suggested answers for the questions set.
This sixteen pages of this Big Picture issue provide a wealth of information that could be used by teachers in the delivery of both genomics and gene technologies.
Individual articles could be used in a variety of ways, as read and review for homework’s, as pre-lesson preparation requiring students to present a short summary, as initial reading followed by research.
The illustrations provided throughout the resource are excellent and could themselves be used as models of good practice. The brief history of DNA sequencing is an excellent example of an infographic and could be used to illustrate what this is. Students could then be asked to come up with an info graphic on the treatment of cystic fibrosis through the use of gene therapy
This set of resources was produced as part of a workshop activity by the Centre for Science Education and the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC).
In the workshop students took on the role of newspaper reporters of the future. They were asked to attend a press conference on a particular topic, for example gene therapy provides a sporting chance". At the press conference they would be provided with some information and they would be able to ask the "scientist" questions. They would then be required to write a newspaper article about the topic. Students were supported in the writing of the newspaper article by a pre presentation from "the editor" and also by using templates/writing frames.
It would be possible to replicate this whole workshop idea with A level biologists, but rather than write a sensational newspaper article, A level students could be asked to write a scientific article on what they discover at the press conference. The idea of gene therapy being used to enhance performance (using the press relase provided) could be the basis for the article. Students could include in the article how this could be achieved based on their understanding of recombinant DNA technology in gene therapy.
Aimed originally for Key Stage Four students this video considers two different diseases, their genetic basis and possible genetic solutions.
There is some useful information in the videos in terms of gene technologies, but it is quite a long video and probably best suited to some independent directed study rather than class time.
It would be possible to develop a set of questions to go with the video, which would link to the level of knowledge and understanding required at A level.
This is an extensive resource pack which considers in detail how genetics can be used in the treatment of cancer. The pack contains videos, a presentation, activity sheets and teacher notes.
There are a number of ways this pack could be used. It could be a long term project undertaken by groups of students, working as teams of scientists. Alternatively sections of the pack could be used as in class activities, for example the data analysis and interpretation.
Teachers will need to read through all this material a few times and consider how it could be best used in terms of time available and relevance to specifications. It is a very useful context led resource for ensuring that students understand the genetic code and its significance to gene therapy.
This short guide was produced for the Triple Science Support Programme, but would still be useful introductory reading for A level biologists.
The guide discusses how genetic modification is the alteration of an organism’s genes using methods other than traditional breeding. The quick guide is a simplified summary of the complex ideas within this topic.
The two questions on the final page could be used as homework questions or for a short paired discussion in class, with each pair feeding back their thoughts to the rest of the class.
This is an extensive resource that could be used in a variety of ways with A level students-it would not be essential to use the resource as it is suggested, it would be possible to pick out bits and make use of these as shorter activities.
The whole resource is essentially focused on the benefits and concerns with genetically modified crops. The cards provided and the before and after voting slips would all be useful to set up a class debate. Alternatively students could use the resources in pairs and come up with a list of reasons for and against the use of GM crops.
This resource provides a series of short video clip interviews with a clinician involved in the treatment of cystic fibrosis sufferers..
There are a range of ways these clips could be used with A level biologists:
One activity could be to have students use the video clips to produce their own infographic timeline showing the discovery of the cause of cystic fibrosis, through to possible gene therapies. It is worthwhile encouraging students to go back-and-forth, reviewing the video clips several times. Similarly, encourage them to make several drafts of their timeline as they refine their ideas. Drafting, reviewing and redrafting helps to clarify understanding and embed learning.
Another use of the clips could be to look at separate parts of research process. For example, it could be used to launch a discussion about the ethical use of animals in medical research (CF mouse clip).
This is a Catalyst article, intended for a 14-16 audience, however the material presented is still applicable to use with A level biologists studying this topic.
The article describes what is being done to improve people’s understanding of the genetics behind this disease, and the range of activities in medical research. The article gives a good explanation of why a disease such as diabetes is different genetically to a disease such as cystic fibrosis. The information on how gene therapy is actually undertaken is limited, but all the background information is useful context.
A level biologists could be given this article as preparation for the start of this topic. They could be asked to read this through for homework and then be ready to give a short presentation to summarise the article.
Alternatively in class students could read the article and then be asked to write a similar article on cystic fibrosis, but include more detail about gene therapy.