Thursday, March 23, 2017

Last week we started on Monday by going over a vodcast that we had due over vacation. Some of the questions for this one were a bit hard to find so it was important to get your whole group’s opinion on them. I think that viruses are a pretty interesting topic though because they are not definitely life, but they are not surely not life either. This part of the unit should be fun to go over in class and learn about. We also received the packet for the lab that we did on Tuesday and Wednesday. The lab began by doing a mouth rinse with salt water to get cheek cells. We them had to use those cells to get our DNA and amplify it using PCR. On Tuesday we got as far as putting the tubes into the PCR chamber. Wednesday began with us taking our amplified DNA and mixing it with dye. Then the dyed DNA was added to the gel electrophoresis machine. This took awhile to run so we had to wait until Thursday to look. I missed Thursday but my group told me that my band showed up on the gel and I did not have the insert. On Friday we took our class data and viewed it online compared to many other populations around the world. The lab was definitely the most interesting part of the week and I was excited that mine worked when some others didn't. It would be nice to look at some other genes that we may or may not have.

Cancer Activity

The two days of class that we spent on studying the genetic causes of cancer really showed me just how easy it can be to have a gene mutate and start causing problems inside of you. With how many base pairs our genome has, even with how accurate replication is, there is bond to be a mistake in one of the genes that helps with cell fate, cell survival or gene maintainance. What I wasn't expecting to see was how some chromosomes have so many more genes that can cause cancer than others. Chromosome 17 for example had a ton of genes labeled on it that could cause cancer and it seemed as if almost 75% of the class had a mutated gene from that chromosome on their cancer card. The opposite can be said as well with some chromosomes have as few as three genes that could cause cancer within, at least that was all that had been discovered. From watching the video it was also nice to learn that the 140 or so types of cancers that we know about, there won't be many more added to that tally. The number of types of cancers is not going to infinitely increase, instead the amount found will slowly increase until it hits a number around maybe 200. I was surprised by the high frequency of the TP53 gene that helped with cell survival as well. Three of the four people in my lung cancer group had the gene on their card and many others around the room also had it on their cards as well. One gene contributing to so many kinds of cancer shows just how important some are. Also the varying number of mutated genes in a cancer patient was also strange. Some people had only two genes that were messed up while other had all the way up to five. It makes me wonder if people who have less mutated genes have a better chance of surviving their type of cancer or if the people with low and high amounts have the same chances. This activity also made me feel a bit better knowing that we do have all this information on cancer and the studies we found on the second day show how far we have come with identifying and treating it.