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Mother's Milk Cures Cancer?

Researchers Deliberate Over Whether to Publish


Linda L. Tichenor
Biology Department
Aiken Technical College


This case study on the immune system, cell cycle regulation, and cancer biology explores the role that serendipity plays in new discoveries in science, how scientific research is funded, and the personal and professional implications of unexpectedly finding one’s self on the “cutting-edge.” The case was developed to help undergraduates, particularly non-science majors, understand how politics and culture play a vital role in the scientific process, and that scientific research is provisional and a product of social and cultural interaction. In addition to these issues, the case explores key concepts and content in biology and biochemistry, including the control of cell division, apoptosis, immunity development, microbial biology, genetic engineering, and breast feeding in humans. Note: An answer key is not available for this case study.


  • Understand the process of scientific research and how it often includes serendipity and human bias.
  • Understand how funding for scientific research and new discoveries are linked.
  • Understand that how scientific research is conducted and scientific findings reported are partly determined by economic and political pressure.
  • Understand how pharmaceutical products are developed from laboratory discoveries to drugs for the consumer.
  • Learn key concepts about the immune system, cell cycle regulation, cancer biology, and microbiology, and how they must all be integrated to do the type of research described in this case.


Scientific research; big science; sociology of science; cancer; lymphoma; alpha-lactalbumin; breast milk; immune system; immunology; immunotherapy; clinical trial; clinical testing; drug development; drug approval

Topical Areas

Ethics, Scientific method, Social issues

Educational Level

High school, Undergraduate lower division, Undergraduate upper division



Type / Methods

Discussion, Dilemma/Decision



Subject Headings

Biology (General)  |   Science (General)  |   Cell Biology  |   Biochemistry  |   Pharmacy / Pharmacology  |  

Date Posted


Teaching Notes

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