Pharmacogenetics: Using Genetics to Treat Disease
This case study investigates the applications of genetics to medicine by exploring one of the first examples of a pharmacogenetic test to enter mainstream clinical practice. Pharmacogenetics examines how genetic variations in an individual correlate with responses to a specific medication in order to develop tailored medical treatments. Through a scenario based on clinical observations, students learn about acute lymphocytic leukemia as well as the wide range of individual responses to the drug used to treat it. Then, students interpret data similar to those initially published in scientific journals in order to construct an understanding of how genetic variation can be used to “tailor” medical care. Lastly, students are asked to apply their understanding of what they have learned in the case by making the appropriate medical recommendation based on a particular individual’s genotype.
- Use scientific/case study data and interpret graphs in order to draw conclusions.
- Understand how individual genetic variation can impact medical practice and clinical outcomes, using the example of leukemia and thiopurine methyltransferase (TPMT).
- Predict how polymorphisms in the gene for TPMT indicate courses of medical care for particular individuals.
KeywordsPharmacogenetics; personalized medicine; acute lymphocytic leukemia; thiopurine drugs; drug metabolism; thiopurine methyltransferase gene; TPMT
Topical AreasEthics, Legal issues, Social justice issues
Educational LevelHigh school, Undergraduate lower division, Undergraduate upper division, Professional (degree program)
Type / MethodsInterrupted, Role-Play
Subject HeadingsMolecular Biology | Genetics / Heredity | Biotechnology | Medicine (General) | Pharmacy / Pharmacology | Nursing | Biomedical Engineering | Bioinformatics | Biology (General) |
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