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The Genetics of Cancer

STEM Biology students have been studying DNA and heredity of traits. This week students have been studying the Genetics of Cancer. They were introduced to our primary patient, Mary, who has been diagnosed with heredity breast cancer and they were charged with determining whether or not her three children carried the same cancer-causing genes. Students learned how DNA is collected from patients, how DNA is multiplied through a polymerase chain reaction, and how restriction enzymes cut DNA sequences into fragments. Then, students took real DNA samples and separated the fragments using gel electrophoresis. We were able to look at all four patients’ DNA fingerprints and determine which child carried the same cancerous genes as their mother. This is a nice introduction to biotechnology and the types of labs that students perform in our Biomedical pathway.