Biotechnology + Alzheimer's= Discovery of Diagnosis

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Objective

Students will follow precisely a complex multistep biotechnological procedure to test fictional patients for Alzheimer's Disease.

Big Idea

Alzheimer's is a complex genetic disease that requires a litany of biotechnological tools and knowledge for earlier detection and diagnosis.

Introduction

Lesson Background & Justification:

    Alzheimer’s disease is an irreversible, progressive brain disease that slowly destroys memory and thinking skills, and eventually even the ability to carry out the simplest tasks. In most people with Alzheimer’s, symptoms first appear after age 65. The disease, a consequence of dysfunctional Tau Proteins, and the increased presence of Amyloid Plaques and Neurofibrillary Tangles is currently diagnosed via brain imaging, biological fluid sampling & testing and a battery of memory tests. In this lesson, students learn to explain the basics of Alzheimers as well as learn to conduct, process and interpret one of the medical tests utilized in the standard diagnosis core. Collectively, students will develop an appreciation for the need of biotechnology to enhance current and future medical diagnostic procedures. 

Prerequisite Knowledge: It is recommended that students be familiar with the structure and function of a neuron, the concept of neurotransmission, the action potential mechanism, immunology basics and enzyme structure and function. 

Lesson Preparations:

 In the effort to prepare for this lesson, I make certain that I have the following items in place: 

a)  One Biorad's ELISA Immuno Explorer Kit (1 copy of the student lab per student pair) 

b) Student lab books.

c) Class set of safety wear (glasses, lab aprons and gloves)

d) Class set of the following article: Article Brief on Break-through Diagnostics 

Common Core and NGSS Standards:

SP2- Developing and Using Models.

SP4- Analyzing and interpreting data.

RST.11-12.3- Follow precisely a complex multistep procedure when carrying out experiments, taking measurements, or performing technical tasks; analyze the specific results based on explanations in the text.

XC-P-LE-1- Patterns in the natural and human designed world can be observed, used to describe phenomena, and used as evidence.

XC-P-MS-4- Graphs, charts, and images can be used to identify patterns in data.

HS-LS3-3- Apply concepts of statistics and probability to explain the variation and distribution of expressed traits in a population. 

Standards Rationale:

      Modeling is the process by which scientists represent ideas about the natural world to each other, and then collaboratively make changes to these representations over time in response to new evidence and understandings. It is intimately connected to other scientific processes (asking questions, communicating information, etc.) and improves students ability to recall scientific jargon through association. In the classroom, it is important that teachers engage students in modeling practices, to set the foundation of success in a lesson or instructional unit. In this lesson modeling is used in concert with other science practices in the classroom to promote students’ reasoning and understanding of core science idea presented (diagnosing the Alzheimer's and predicting the probability of its severity).   

Engage

10 minutes

Section Sequence:

a) Slide 1: Advance the images individually and ask per advancement "Who is this person and what are they known for?" 

b) Ask: "Does anyone know what these individuals have in common?" Probe students with clarifying questions (With such different accomplishments, what could they possibly have in common?) If students don't avail the condition Alzheimer's, share it with them and ask if they know what it is. Accept responses even if they are general in nature (eg. a memory disease). 

c) Slide 2: Share with students that will see how much they know about the disease. Select 2 volunteers to square off in a game of "Are you smarter than your classmate?" and 2 additional students to keep score. Project the Alzhemer's Quiz and progress through each question via reading it aloud, instructing contestants to record their responses on an index card, and passing it to the score keeper's to correct the response when you display the correct answer. Involve the other class members by asking what they think the correct response is before displaying it. 

Explore

20 minutes

Section Primer:

              Tau Proteins are proteins that stabilize microtubles. They are abundant in neurons of the central nervous system and are expressed at very low levels in astrocytes and oligodendrocytes of the CNS. Senile plaques are extracellular deposits of amyloid beta proteins (peptides of 36–43 amino acids that are involved in Alzheimer's disease) in the brain.These deposits can also be a byproduct of ageing. However, large numbers of senile plaques and Neruofibrillary Tangles are characteristic features of the disease. In this section of the lesson, students are introduced to the basics of these biochemicals and their relationship with the Alzheimer's condition. They then, perform an ELISA test (an antigen sensitive and detection procedure) to predict the likelihood of fictional patients having the disease. 

Section Sequence:

a) Slide 3: Provide students with a *modified copy of the Timeline of Tau Protein Research and share with them that the timeline presented reflects what we have learned about Alzheimer's over the past century. Instruct for them to read the timeline and to highlight the reoccurring or prominent & consistent terms throughout and share out to the class thereafter.  

* White out the words Timeline of Tau Protein Research. 

b) Review the term Biomarker with students and provide them with a copy of the Article Brief on Break-through Diagnostics  and give them 5 minutes to scan, identify and highlight other potential biomarkers of the disease. Share that we will demonstrate how some biomarkers are detected from the biological fluids of the patient. 

c) Slide 4: Present and discuss responses as a class. 

d) Slide 5: Introduce students to ELISA via the following video: 

               

Post video, recap the major steps and position of the discussed biomarkers from the article using the images on the slide.

e) Provide student pairs with the materials (1 well strip, pipettes, paper towels, buffer solution, required testing reagents and 3 tubes labeled IRIS1, Biomarker 2, and Biomarker 3) for the lab and explain the steps and purpose of the materials to the class. Use the How to use the ELISA Test Video as a reference. 

f) Allow students to execute the lab using labeling specifics project on the slide. Students will record set up and results in their lab books. (see student results attached)

Standards Covered: 

SP2- Developing and Using Models.

SP4- Analyzing and interpreting data.

RST.11-12.3- Follow precisely a complex multistep procedure when carrying out experiments, taking measurements, or performing technical tasks; analyze the specific results based on explanations in the text.

XC-P-LE-1- Patterns in the natural and human designed world can be observed, used to describe phenomena, and used as evidence.

XC-P-MS-4- Graphs, charts, and images can be used to identify patterns in data.  

Explain

15 minutes

Section Sequence:

a) Slide 6: Share with students that we will now see how factors such Tau proteins, etc work collectively to produce the degenerative effects of Alzheimer's. Play the following videos in succession, instruct students to take notes throughout the videos (pausing periodically to discuss frames with heavy content for greater clarity. Asking questions such as how would this impact an action potential? Produce problems with normal homeostatic functions such ion pumping? etc.)

Video 1:

Video 2: 

b) Review the content of the video by interpreting and applying terminology to events seen in the following image: http://www.pnas.org/content/103/15/5644/F3.large.jpg . Discuss how and why these events eventually lead to cell death and consequently neurodegeneration. 

Standards Covered: 

XC-P-LE-1- Patterns in the natural and human designed world can be observed, used to describe phenomena, and used as evidence.

Extend

30 minutes

Section Sequence:

a) Slide 7: Introduce the APOE allele system and explain how scientist have linked it to predicting the probability or chances of one having Alzheimer's. (Reference page 1 of the document/activity: Alzheimer’s Disease and Genetic Testing: Relevant Facts ). Review the process of gel electrophoresis using the APOE system, while referencing the diagrams on the lower half of the screen.   

b) Instruct students to revisit their results of the ELISA tests and based on the extent of those results, predict via illustration, what the gel results may look like for each person if each individual were tested for the presence of the alleles in the APOE system. 

Standards Covered: 

SP2- Developing and Using Models.

SP4- Analyzing and interpreting data.

XC-P-LE-1- Patterns in the natural and human designed world can be observed, used to describe phenomena, and used as evidence.

XC-P-MS-4- Graphs, charts, and images can be used to identify patterns in data.

HS-LS3-3- Apply concepts of statistics and probability to explain the variation and distribution of expressed traits in a population. 


Evaluate

15 minutes

Section Primer:

        A Fish bone Diagram is a visual way to look at cause and effect. It is a structured approach to brainstorming that helps students to identify causes of a problem and in sorting ideas into useful categories.The problem or effect is displayed at the head or mouth of the fish. Possible contributing causes are listed on the smaller “bones” under various cause categories. A fish bone diagram can be helpful in identifying possible causes for a problem that might not otherwise be considered by directing students to look at the categories and think of alternative causes. As there are quite a few factors that contribute to Alzheimer's, it is important that students have a means to tie these factors together and their overall influence on the end product: neurodegeneration. The goal is for students to provide evidence that they are able to identify the scaffolded relationships of root causative factors (genes) and expression of the secondary factors (tau proteins, etc.) with the neuron's decision to terminate. This section proceeds as follows:

Section Sequence:

Slide 8- Read and instruct students to complete the assessment task as seen on the slide. Instruct students to record in their diagrams in their lab books and submit their lab books at the close of the class.

Standards Covered: 

SP2- Developing and Using Models.

XC-P-LE-1- Patterns in the natural and human designed world can be observed, used to describe phenomena, and used as evidence.

HS-LS3-3- Apply concepts of statistics and probability to explain the variation and distribution of expressed traits in a population.