Biology

What are the risks and benefits of transgenic organisms in agriculture and in medicine? Imagine that you are a biologist working for the Canadian government. You have been asked by your manager to prepare a short scientific summary describing the risks and benefits of transgenic organisms in ONE of two areas: agriculture or medicine. Please write a 500-700 word scientific assessment report, summarizing at least two risks and two benefits of transgenic organisms to Canadians in EITHER agriculture or medical applications. Use the style of scientific assessment report. In your report, sate whether you are for or against recommending the use of transgenic organisms in Canada based on the evidence you provide. Make sure that you include at least 3 references in your report, using proper citation format.

1) Define the following terms dealing with the immune system

Antigen: _________________________________________

Pathogen: ________________________________________

Epitope: _________________________________________

2) Why did you run both positive & negative controls?

3) What is a false positive? How do you think one could come about using a test like the ELISA?

4) At the end of 3 rounds of fluid transfers, what percentage of the class had the disease?

5) You can narrow the initial outbreak down to 2 people, who are they?

6) Describe how an organization like the CDC could use results like those you obtained to track down “patient zero” for a disease outbreak.

7) Do you think this method shows a direct or indirect ELISA procedure? Why?

8) With an indirect ELISA, it tests not for the antigen, but antibodies against the antigen, does a positive test then mean the person currently has the disease in question? If not, what does a positive

Immunity & Vaccinations

Background

Vaccinations are given to stimulate the production of antibodies without the animal actually getting the sick with a disease. Vaccinations come in many different forms, but the most common types are inactivated viruses or bacteria (also called attenuated bacteria or viruses). Attenuated means the pathogen has been disabled so it can’t cause the full-blown illness, but is still figuratively “alive” so the animal may get a very mild form of the illness. You can think of it as a recognizable, but harmless form of the pathogen. Inactivated vaccines, which are “dead,” often contain fragments of the original pathogen which are attached to another particle to attract B cells. As the body removes the attenuated (= inactivated) pathogen, the adaptive immune system learns, with an eye toward remembering this encounter with the “pathogen” (note that your immune system does not “know” that it only encountered a harmless form of the pathogen). It remembers by making antibodies against that disease which should prevent future infections.

In the last decade, a movement has started in the U.S., supported by Hollywood celebrities among others, who claim that vaccines are unnecessary. Some even claim that vaccines even cause autism. The claim that vaccines cause autism has been conclusively proven false through many studies conducted all over the world. One initial study, which caused the initial concern, was filled with many mistakes and after close examination, was determined to be invalid by many different scientists. See https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2831678/ and https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3136032/ for more information on this.

As to the first claim that vaccines are unnecessary against certain diseases, we will closely examine exactly how vaccines protect many people not just those who receive the vaccine.

In every population there will be people whose immune system is weakened. It could be weakened for many reasons: genetic (missing or damaged genes); the person is elderly, very young, allergic; or undergoing chemo or radiation therapy for cancer (which can cripple the immune system). These people often can’t receive vaccinations or if given, they won’t produce antibodies or sufficient numbers of antibodies to prevent them from getting sick.

Procedure

Visit https://fred.publichealth.pitt.edu/measles

This is a program that simulates the spread of the measles. On the left side of the screen will assume that only 80% of the people are vaccinated. The right side will assume that 95% of the people are vaccinated.

1. Select District of Columbia & for the city, select Washington D.C. Answer questions 1 & 2 about this simulation.

2. Now change the state to North Carolina. For the city select Hickory. Run the simulation again. Answer question 4 on the answer sheet.

3. Now change the state to New York & the city to New York. Run the simulation again. Answer question 5 on the answer sheet.

Disease Spread Simulation Answer Sheet

1) How long did it take for the disease to disappear on the vaccinated side for D.C.?

2) Make a hypothesis on why the 80% vaccinated side of D.C. Eventually saw the disease begin to slow down? About how many days did it take to slow down?

3) How does each side compare to D.C.?

4) Hickory has a population of about 40,000 people & D.C. Has about 630,000 people. What does this tell you about how population density affects disease spread?

5) How does New York city compare to D.C & Hickory? Explain why you think that is the case.

6) Based on these simulations and given that both measles and COVID-19 are both airborne proximity diseases, why are all the governors capping the size of gatherings?

7) For a blood borne (or STD/STI) based disease (like that simulated with the ELISA part of this lab), would limiting the size of gatherings be as effective at stopping the spread of those diseases? Explain.

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