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Explain the Genome and It's Impact on Modern Medicine

In this worksheet, students will explain our understanding of the genome, and express how knowing our genetics can help advance medical practice and technologies.

Worksheet Overview

QUESTION 1 of 10

When you look in the mirror, don't you wonder how our bodies know how to make us who we are?


The answer is DNA! Or the chemical deoxyribonucleic acid, which all genetic information is made up of.

 

DNA is a long chain of tightly wound up coded instructions which cells unravel, read and use to make proteins.

 

 

In cell nuclei, chunks of DNA are arranged into 46 individual or 23 pairs of chromosomes, half from each parent.

 

DNA is also a polymer of many nucleotides- a group including a sugar molecule, a phosphate group and a nitrogenous base.

 

These are linked together to make the double helix, the swirly ladder of two linked strands that you've probably on biology textbooks!

 

And all this genetic information in us is called our GENOME! 

 

       

 

Another point is that cells read the code of the double helix in small chunks at a time, called a gene.

 

One gene makes one specific code, like hair colour, BUT we are blonde or brunette because there are different versions of one gene called alleles.

 

And like you have a unique allele cocktail for your appearance, we can use them to figure out someone's specific risk of disease, meaning understanding our genome is important in healthcare.

 

However, nothing is perfect, and when our genetic code unexpectedly changes, we call this a mutation.

 

BUT not all mutations are bad! Some can be useful like bigger teeth on a dinosaur, improving them as predators and helping their survival!

 

HOWEVER, while our DNA decides our appearance and personalities, making our unique phenotypes, mutations rarely affect the phenotype very much so we hardly see these genetic changes!

 

 

Genetic technology involves changing the genes already in an organism, which causes some divided opinions in agriculture and medicine.

 

In modern agriculture, the benefits include increased crop yields, increased crop qualities and encoding plants with insect and pest resistance, but world hunger is yet to be solved!

 

There is a strong argument that questions our right to interfere with nature, and that we don’t really know the long term consequences of changing plant DNA on other crops and the potential harm to our bodies like new allergies!

 

The same principles apply in medicine, where gene technology is heavily used in fertility and genetic testing.

 

Checking our genetics to assess our potential risk of disease and helping IVF parents to only select the genetically healthiest embryos to be born are major modern advantages. 

 

The plus is that fewer diseases will be passed on, but is this playing God?

Embryo research is highly controversial, and some worry that IVF will be used to plan ‘designer-babies’!

Our genome is which of the following?

[Choose ONE option below]

 

Different alleles

The double helix

All our genetic information

23 chromosomes

Nucleotides

Put these terms into size order, starting with the largest:

 

Column A

Column B

(Largest) 1.
Base
2.
Nucleotide
3.
Gene
4.
Genome
5.
Chromosome
(Smallest) 6.
Nucleus

What is the name of the spiral form DNA takes?

 

How well do you know your different DNA terms?

'It's rare for a single mutation to significantly affect the phenotype'

 

Is this True or False?

 

TRUE or FALSE

Which of the options below is a potential mutation in a person's genetic code that will be passed onto their offspring?

In modern agriculture, there are many ethical and practical barriers to using genetic technology, but the potential benefits have helped pioneer research into this field tremendously over recent years.

 

Below, give some examples of benefits and risks of genetically modified crops:

 

 

 

Genetic technology is also a pivotal part of medical understanding and improving treatments.

What is an example of a widely used application of gene technology in medicine, especially in maternity?

What is our phenotype?

The alleles we get from our parents

How our genetics has made us look

Our susceptibility to disease

How we look based on genetics but also living for example bigger muscles

  • Question 1

Our genome is which of the following?

[Choose ONE option below]

 

CORRECT ANSWER
All our genetic information
EDDIE SAYS
How did you do? Our genome is the entire genetic code that our cell nuclei contain, providing information for every protein our body needs to survive and grow. However, in sex cells only half our genome is present, as 23 chromosomes have to come from the other partner too and we want offspring to only have 46 chromosomes in total!
  • Question 2

Put these terms into size order, starting with the largest:

 

CORRECT ANSWER

Column A

Column B

(Largest) 1.
Nucleus
2.
Genome
3.
Chromosome
4.
Gene
5.
Nucleotide
(Smallest) 6.
Base
EDDIE SAYS
This is an important concept to appreciate, as if you understand this question, you have a good grip on how DNA is structured. The largest term here is the nucleus, which acts as the cell's storage house of DNA. All the other terms refer to zooming in on the DNA in the nucleus more and more closely, the entire bunch of genetic information being our genome, which in the nucleus is arranged in chromosomes. When a chromosome is unravelled, a piece of the double helix is a gene, but in the most basic form, DNA is made of blocks of nucleotides that make up the double helix, and one piece of a nucleotide is a base.
  • Question 3

What is the name of the spiral form DNA takes?

 

CORRECT ANSWER
DOUBLE HELIX
A DOUBLE HELIX
THE DOUBLE HELIX
EDDIE SAYS
DNA exists as a double helix- two swirling strands of genetic information made of nucleotides.
  • Question 4

How well do you know your different DNA terms?

CORRECT ANSWER
EDDIE SAYS
Did you feel confident answering this question? We need DNA is to provide the body with instructions to make proteins so we can live and grow. DNA exists in a coded form and is ultimately made of small units called nucleotides that form the double helix shape we associate DNA with.
  • Question 5

'It's rare for a single mutation to significantly affect the phenotype'

 

Is this True or False?

 

CORRECT ANSWER
TRUE or FALSE
EDDIE SAYS
While mutations can have disastrous or advantageous effects on an individual, most mutations do not drastically affect how we come across to others through our personality or appearance, and some might have a small effect on our phenotype.
  • Question 6

Which of the options below is a potential mutation in a person's genetic code that will be passed onto their offspring?

CORRECT ANSWER
EDDIE SAYS
This question really has you testing your understanding of what genetics means in terms of making us who we are and reproduction! IMPORTANT: Acquired characteristics can't be passed onto offspring! That means that big muscles or losing a limb will not go into the person's DNA and so will not be passed onto their children, so a bodybuilder isn't guaranteed to have a champion athlete as a kid! However, being taller than expected, having wide childbearing hips or a strong sense of smell are changes FROM BIRTH and so are encoded differences in their genome, meaning these are mutations.
  • Question 7

In modern agriculture, there are many ethical and practical barriers to using genetic technology, but the potential benefits have helped pioneer research into this field tremendously over recent years.

 

Below, give some examples of benefits and risks of genetically modified crops:

 

 

 

CORRECT ANSWER
EDDIE SAYS
More crops, better quality crops and pest-resistant crops are all advantages to using genetic technology in agriculture. However, new allergies, new toxins and the unknown consequences of planting and eating these genetically modified plants on the environment and humans stop this being a global solution to famine and farming difficulties.
  • Question 8

Genetic technology is also a pivotal part of medical understanding and improving treatments.

CORRECT ANSWER
EDDIE SAYS
The pros and cons behind genetic technology in agriculture and medicine is extensive, and there are many reasons on both sides, but learning a few of each will help you grasp the barriers researchers face daily in trying to push their work forward, but also the justified worries people have when it comes to letting gene technology into their lives. Well done on getting through this activity, and don't forget to jot down any explanations or analogies you found useful!
  • Question 9

What is an example of a widely used application of gene technology in medicine, especially in maternity?

CORRECT ANSWER
GENETIC TESTING
EDDIE SAYS
Here, the question was looking for you to know one of the biggest applications of gene technology! Genetic testing allows pregnant mothers time to consider if they want to carry on with the pregnancy of a child that will be born with an illness that impacts the rest of its life. Genetic testing can also be used to assess a person's risk of disease, especially if their parents or other close family members already have a disease and they want to know their risk of getting it too, for example, Parkinson's.
  • Question 10

What is our phenotype?

CORRECT ANSWER
How our genetics has made us look
EDDIE SAYS
Our phenotype is our appearance and personality that our genes have coded for. This does not include characteristics acquired during your lifetime like plastic surgeries, as these can not be passed onto your children because they are not in your DNA.
---- OR ----

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