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Newsletter - November 2011

Our November newsletter features some of the latest resources published on the Hub in 2011.

We have published a new focus story about pig cell transplants. It examines why and how pig cells are being tested as a treatment for type 1 diabetes and contains resources suitable for senior students. Also, we feature a new theme that brings Gregor Mendel’s research on inheritance in peas into the 21st century.

Pig cell transplants – new focus story

Living Cell Technologies (LCT) is a New Zealand company at the forefront of xenotransplantation research. In the focus story Pig cell transplants, explore why and how they’re using pig cells to treat type 1 diabetes and other diseases.

Diabetes and pig cell transplants – Info sheet
Living Cell Technologies (LCT) is developing live pig cell transplants to treat type 1 diabetes.

Preventing pig cell transplant rejection – Info sheet
Pig cells are encapsulated inside a special coating to prevent them being rejected by the patient’s immune system.

Cells from a unique breed of pigs – Video clip
Cells come from pigs originally from the isolated environment of the subantarctic Auckland Islands and are free of diseases commonly seen in the domestic pig herd.

Ethics and pig cell transplants – Student activity
Use role-playing with your students to explore different stakeholders’ perspectives on the issue of using pig cells to treat type 1 diabetes.

Risks and benefits of pig cell transplants – Video clip
The main risk of pig cell transplants is the transmission of diseases from pigs to humans. The main benefit of pig cell transplants is improving quality of life of type 1 diabetics.

Processing pig cells for transplants – Interactive
LCT extracts islet cells from piglet pancreases. The islets contain insulin-producing cells that can be transplanted into patients with type 1 diabetes. The process from pig cell to patient has several key steps with rigorous quality control checks throughout.

Mendel and inheritance – new theme

In our new theme Mendel and inheritance, explore Gregor Mendel’s principles of inheritance, which were based on his experiments with peas in the 1860s. 150 years later, scientists from Plant & Food Research in New Zealand have helped identify the gene for Mendel’s pea flower colour.

Mendel’s experiments – Info sheet
Mendel is known as the father of genetics because of his groundbreaking work on inheritance in pea plants 150 years ago.

Identifying Mendel’s pea genes – Info sheet
In 2010, the gene controlling pea flower colour – first studied by Gregor Mendel 150 years earlier – was identified by researchers from New Zealand and overseas.

Colour in Mendel’s peas – RNZ audio
Roger Hellens from Plant & Food Research and a team of researchers have discovered the genes that control flower colour in Mendel’s pea plants.

Teaching ethical thinking in the classroom

We’ve added some new resources to our Ethics thinking tool.

Using ethical frameworks in the classroom – Info sheet
Ethical frameworks provide a structured approach to exploring controversial issues with students. This information sheet describes five commonly used ethical frameworks and includes questions to help scaffold student thinking.

Using ethical frameworks – Student activity
This activity is designed to help your students use frameworks to consider their responses to an ethical issue and justify their conclusions. You can enter your own ethical issue, choose one or more of the ethical frameworks and have students answer the questions individually or in groups.

News and events

Keep up to date with the latest biotechnology news, events and radio broadcasts.

Gene guns and biolistics – RNZ audio
Simon Deroles from Plant & Food Research designs and builds gene guns and uses them to test for gene expression, particularly genes that control for pigments in flowers.

Spud genome helps fight blight – News item
An international consortium of 26 research organisations, including New Zealand’s Plant & Food Research, has recently announced the successful sequencing of the potato genome (Solanum tuberosum).

From wood waste gas to jet fuel – News item
New Zealand-based bioenergy technology company LanzaTech has developed novel technology to produce ethanol and chemicals from waste gas.

More news and events

Contact us

We’d like to hear from you if you’re using Hub resources in the classroom or if you’re interested in helping us develop new resources. Please email enquiries@biotechlearn.org.nz, and we’ll be in touch.

Best wishes
The Biotechnology Learning Hub team


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