Recommended Year Level: Years 9 and 10 Required Knowledge: Little - Teachers need to have access to the film GATTACA Duration: 4 x 50 minute lessons (only 1 if you do not watch video)
Genetic testing can reveal if a person has a genetic condition. Can we use biotechnology to cure them?
Disease can occur when genes become defective through changes called mutations. These changes result in a new form of the gene – a new allele - which may cause it to function less effectively, or not at all.
In time, it may be possible to use gene therapy to replace an abnormal or faulty gene with a normal copy of the same gene.
Currently, gene therapy is an experimental procedure that aims to correct only defective genes that cause disease and not other characteristics. In the future, it may be used to treat ailments such as heart disease, inherited diseases or cancers.
None of Us are Perfect
Each human carries about half-a-dozen defective genes. Most of us do not suffer any harmful effects from our defective genes, because we carry two copies of nearly all genes. Scientists are looking at gene therapy as a treatment for genetic disorders. Absent or faulty genes can be replaced by working genes, so that the body can make the correct enzyme or protein and consequently eliminate the root cause of the disease.