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Know Your Enemy, Know Yourself

Using Precision Medicine to Target Breast Cancer and the Cell Cycle



Co Authors:

Kelsie M. Bernot
Department of Biology
North Carolina A&T State University
kmbernot@ncat.edu

Telah A. Wingate
Department of Biology
North Carolina A&T State University

Kiara D. Whitaker
Department of Biology
North Carolina A&T State University

Abstract:

This case study relates the actual experiences of a woman with breast cancer as she shares her experiences through a series of blog posts at various stages of treatment (diagnosis, mastectomy, chemotherapy, targeted therapy, and maintenance). Students will interpret her actual pathology report and learn that an individual’s genetic makeup determines whether certain drugs are metabolized effectively, and how dosing and drug choice may change depending on which metabolizing enzymes are present.  In the context of precision medicine, “knowing yourself” is just as important as “knowing your enemy.” Students conclude the activity by interpreting graphical data that reveals health disparities in the United States and across the world, and consider causal implications of those disparities. The case is especially suited for an introductory biology course, but could easily be adapted for a higher-level cell, molecular biology or genetics class. Health sciences courses such as nursing or introductory pharmacology may also find it useful.

Objectives:
  • Read and interpret breast cancer pathology results.
  • Draw the phases of mitosis.
  • Connect cell signaling to cell cycle regulation, and explain how dysregulation of those events can lead to cancer.
  • Discuss how physicians use precision medicine to obtain genetic information about an individual's tumor tissue to target treatment specific to that individual's cancer.
  • Discuss how physicians use precision medicine to obtain genetic information about an individual's somatic, non-cancerous cells to make decisions about treatment.
  • Define incidence and mortality.
  • Compare how health disparities impact patients' and physicians' abilities to know the enemy and know themselves in the United States and the world.
  • Discuss the impact of ethnicity, age, geographic location and healthcare infrastructure on health disparities.
Keywords: Cancer; cell signaling; signal transduction; mitosis; health disparities; breast cancer; cell cycle; CYP2D6; chemotherapy; metabolism; precision medicine; data analysis; pathology; drug efficacy; tamoxifen; docetaxol; trastuzumab; carboplatin; mastectomy
Topical Area: Social justice issues
Educational Level: High school, Undergraduate lower division, Undergraduate upper division, Clinical education
Formats: PDF
Type/Method: Interrupted
Language: English
Subject Headings: Biology (General)   Cell Biology   Medicinal Chemistry   Physiology   Epidemiology   Genetics / Heredity   Medicine (General)   Nursing   Pharmacy / Pharmacology   Public Health   Science (General)  
Date Posted: 10/15/2018
Date Modified: N/A
Copyright: Copyright held by the National Center for Case Study Teaching in Science, University at Buffalo, State University of New York. Please see our usage guidelines, which outline our policy concerning permissible reproduction of this work.

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