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Sometimes It Is All in the Genes


Author(s)

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 Areas

Ethics

Educational Level

Undergraduate lower division, Undergraduate upper division, General public & informal education

Format

PDF

Type / Methods

Interrupted

Language

English

Subject Headings

Biology (General)  |   Medicine (General)  |   Genetics / Heredity  |  


Date Posted

09/24/02

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