Lesson Ideas

6 Science Articles about Gene Editing

What happens when scientists change organisms’ biological instructions? These 6 middle and high school-level articles illustrate the potential of gene editing. Challenge deadly diseases, improve human health, and investigate new genetically modified crops with these teen-friendly, standards-matched activities. View the full collection here, or scroll down to learn about the featured articles.

1. How can we use genetic engineering to get rid of malaria for good?

Mosquito bites can carry and spread deadly diseases such as malaria, dengue, yellow fever and many more. Every year, millions of people die from mosquito-borne diseases and most of them are young children. There are ways to get rid of mosquitoes and prevent such diseases, but they are not as effective as we would like. What if we used genetic engineering?

This article meets NGSS standards: HS-LS3, MS-LS3

2. How can gene editing cure disease?

The cell copies 50 nucleotides per second and only makes one mistake per 100 million nucleotides! That’s like copying the full 32 volumes of Encyclopedia Britannica twelve times and only making one typo! Most times even these mistakes are caught and fixed. But sometimes a mutation gets passed on. In rare cases, single nucleotide mutations lead to genetic disease. Scientists have always wanted to use genetic editing to correct the bad part of the gene. We found a way to do it in real, live mice!

This article meets NGSS standards: HS-LS3, MSLS3

3. Can we write biological “software updates” to cure disease?

Your body is made up of over 1 trillion decision-making cells. These cells lack brains, and instead rely on molecular sensors to identify surrounding molecules or signals. Like a computer program, they take in input and output responses. Unfortunately, just as a buggy software code can make a computer malfunction, sometimes bad genetic code causes them to respond negatively. A cancer cell has a broken code that causes it to grow despite signals to shut down. Scientists have long sought to develop gene therapy to fix or replace damaged and missing genes within a person’s genome. Our team approached this challenge in a new way: we engineered something called a protein circuit and it seemed to work!

This article meets NGSS standards: HS-LS3, MS-LS3

4. How can we protect bananas?

A fungal disease, called Black Sigatoka, is threatening banana crops worldwide. The reason for this is the lack of genetic diversity in commercial bananas – the Cavendish – as all of these bananas are clones. So any disease that can kill one of them can kill them all. Farmers can protect their crops by applying chemicals that kill fungi but this raises production costs and is bad for the environment. To better understand the problem, we explored the relationship between bananas and its pathogen.

This article meets NGSS standards: HS-LS1, HS-LS3

5. How can we save bananas from a deadly disease?

Have you ever wondered why all bananas in supermarkets look alike and taste exactly the same? Because almost all exported bananas are of a single cultivar, the Cavendish. Every single Cavendish is genetically identical; basically, they are all clones! Cavendish bananas are under a threat from a disease called Panama disease, also known as Fusarium wilt Tropical Race 4 (TR4) that is caused by a fungus. It is spreading very fast and has already destroyed many plantations in Asia and Australia and has recently spread to the Middle East and Africa. This is because Cavendish bananas do not have an active gene to fight off TR4. However, a wild banana from Indonesia does – the RGA2 gene. Here, we added the RGA2 gene to Cavendish plants and tested them in fields infested with TR4.

This article meets NGSS standards: HS-LS1, HS-LS3

6. How can GM tomatoes help fight cancer?

Did your parents ever tell you that eating your fruit and veggies is good for you? Well, they’re right! Fruits and vegetables contain powerful agents called antioxidants that can help us fight many diseases, including one of the biggest killers of all: cancer. With genetic engineering techniques, we created a new tomato that is even healthier than its traditional counterparts. In this study, we not only show that it contains more compounds that are beneficial to our health, but also that it has higher cancer-fighting powers than traditional tomatoes. We believe that our new tomato can aid in cancer prevention, either by simply eating it or by turning it into food supplements or cancer prevention medicine.

This article meets NGSS standards: HS-LS2, HS-LS3

That’s Not All!

Our site offers hundreds of scientific articles, some of them about geneticsfood & agriculture, and health & medicine. Everything is free to download and use! Try the filter to find the ones you need.

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