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Kevin Xo

Western University
New Ways to Breathe: Cystic Fibrosis and Gene Therapy

This case study follows a young cystic fibrosis (CF) patient named Lucas. Through Lucas's story and interactions between his parents and pediatrician, students learn about the scientific background and basis of CF. By reviewing email correspondence between Lucas's parents and various doctors, students gain an overview of CF research. CF has become a model disease in certain undergraduate biology classrooms due to its relatively clear mechanism and genetic basis. This case asks students to come up with their own ideas to improve on an existing line of research - gene therapy - in treating CF. During the process, students will gain a better appreciation of the innovative nature of science and develop research skills such as finding, understanding and analyzing primary literature. The activity was originally designed for first- and second-year students as part of an extracurricular case competition, but may be used for any undergraduate biology level. The case assumes basic (high school level) knowledge of genetics, biochemistry, cell biology and physiology.