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Sometimes It Is All in the Genes



Co Authors:

Anne Galbraith
Department of Biology
University of Wisconsin-La Crosse
galbrait.anne@uwlax.edu

David R. Howard
Department of Biology
University of Wisconsin-La Crosse
howard.davi@uwlax.edu

Abstract:

Nancy, five months pregnant, agrees to a routine genetic test that indicates she carries the mutation for the fatal disease, cystic fibrosis. She convinces her husband to get tested and discovers that he too is a carrier. Knowing that there is a 25 percent chance their unborn child may have the disease, they must decide what to do. This case introduces students to the scientific and ethical issues surrounding genetic testing for a disease that has no known cure. The case was developed for a health and wellness general education course that is entirely case based.

Objectives:
  • Explain and use relevant terminology:  dominant, recessive, carrier, gene, mutation, disorder, allele.
  • Calculate the probabilities of inheriting recessive traits and passing them on to offspring.
  • Discuss the symptoms of and treatments for cystic fibrosis.
  • Describe amniocentesis as a technique for in utero testing and discuss the ethics of having it done.
  • Discuss the purpose of in utero testing for genetic disorders for which there is no current cure.
  • Discuss clinical trials, gene therapy techniques, and the ethics of “playing God.”
Keywords: Cystic fibrosis; CFTR; gene frequency; genetic disorder; recessive; carrier; mutation; allele; genetic testing; amniocentesis; gene therapy
Topical Area: Ethics
Educational Level: Undergraduate lower division, Undergraduate upper division, General public & informal education
Formats: PDF
Type/Method: Interrupted
Language: English
Subject Headings: Biology (General)   Medicine (General)   Genetics / Heredity  
Date Posted: 09/24/02
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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