1. To acquaint students with simple version of recombinant techniques.
2. To present the ethical question without bias, (if possible), .
3. To predict some positive and negative effects that may be realized from genetic engineering.
No matter how we feel about it, genetic engineering is progressing by leaps and bounds. Viruses, which are no more than a few genes joined together and surrounded by a protein coat,have been known to be able to replicate in the cytoplasm of cells. Now, these and fast producing and reproducing bacteria are being used to produce protein chains. A repression protein is used to splice or turn off the action at one site on the circular E coli (a bacteria which exists in the human digestive tract) and turn on another part (by a transcribing enzyme) where genes have been inserted, and production of the protein chains that those genes code for begins. DNA can be spliced from one kind of cell to another. These methods can also be used to turn on and off so that the mechanisms of genes may be studied.
Commercial companies are vieing for patent rights and they and commercial biologists are using these recombinant techniques to produce interferon (hopefully effective in virally caused disorders such as flu, hepatitis and even cancer. Human insulin, (a two amino acid chain) has been produced from coding with man-made genes that have been inserted into the plasmids of E.coli. They are activated by (turned only ) a mechanism called a lacoperon and the bacteria turned out insulin chains. Other hopes are for pituitary growth hormone for dwarfism and Factor VIII. blood protein for hemophiliacs. It is dreamed that someday the faulty genetic material in humans may be altered by introduced corrective genes.
The major problems are that natural genes have regulatory mechanisms we don’t understand completely, and mapping of genes on chromosomes has really just begun. Therefore, how to install helpful genes into the appropriate cells of the human body is the big question. The closest so far is that Ruddle installed interferon in mouse cells in the embryo and the gene was later passed on to the mouse’s offspring.
1. Organize a debate among the class members. One half is to argue for genetic engineering; one half is to argue against. Information is to be collected from outside readings. Three days will be given to prepare.
Everyone in class must write a summary of the pertinent points in the debate.
2. “Research” the research going on in any of the disorders mentioned or choose one of your own.