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A Family in Need: In-Class Case Study on Cancer Genetics
Janet A. De Souza-Hart
This case is designed as an in-class, problem-based learning activity for students to learn about several innovative medical applications of molecular biology. Students assume the role of a second-year medical student assigned to work with a pediatric oncologist who has just biopsied a tumor-like growth in the adrenal gland of her 17-year-old patient, Lee F. After taking Lee’s family history and performing a pedigree analysis, students review clinical and genetic characteristics of several syndromes associated with adrenal cancer. Students then explore various diagnostic and biomedical research techniques such as PCR, DNA sequencing, and pre-implantation genetic diagnosis. The case concludes with a consideration of how to treat Lee’s condition with the help of gene cloning and the potential of gene therapy. Although originally written for an upper-level college genetics course, the case could also be adapted for an introductory molecular/cellular biology course, a non-majors biology course, or a professional school medical genetics course. The case has two versions: an "in-class version" and an "Internet version." This version is the in-class version. The other, Internet-enhanced version requires that students work more independently as they use various websites and databases to discover key pieces of information for the case and is completed outside of class.
|Keywords:||rDNA technology; Li Fraumeni syndrome; cancer; PCR; DNA microarrays; gene cloning; Southern blotting; DNA sequencing; genetic testing; gene therapy; pedigree analysis; P53; virotherapy|
|Educational Level:||Undergraduate lower division, Undergraduate upper division|
|Type/Method:||Analysis (Issues), Directed, Discussion|
|Subject Headings:||Biology (General) Biotechnology Genetics / Heredity Molecular Biology Medicine (General)|
|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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The supplemental material below may be used in conjunction with this case study.The p53 Gene and Cancer
This self-paced "Click and Learn" activity explains the structure and function of the p53 protein as well as how the protein's activity is regulated. Produced by: HHMI BioInteractive.
How to Analyze DNA Microarray Data
In this self-paced "Click and Learn" activity, students learn how researchers use computing to analyze and interpret the huge datasets generated by microarray experiments. Produced by: HHMI BioInteractive.
VideosThe following video(s) are recommended for use in association with this case study.
Using p53 to Fight Cancer
This animation demonstrates how cancerous cells could be destroyed using a modified virus. Running time: 1:02 min. Produced by: HHMI BioInteractive.