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Anna Moody
AP Biology
Rissi 2
20 March 2017
Sam Rhine - Genetics
In his presentation, Sam Rhine discussed a variety of topics, differentiating them in the
form of Miraculous Events. These events focused primarily on embryonic development, Cell
Replacement Therapy, and CRISPR/Cas9. First, in miraculous event #1, Rhine discussed the
complexity of how a baby forms. An egg from the ovary and a sperm from the testis join
together to start the baby making process. The genes in the mitochondria are inherited from
mom, but the genes in your nucleus are split 50/50 between mom and dad. In males, after
meiosis four spermatids are formed whereas in females one egg nucleus and three polar bodies
are created. Although, humans only have two polar bodies because the first cannot divide more
than once. The first female polar body is released during ovulation, and the second is released
during fertilization. After this, all the genetic information for the baby is made. Sam Rhine
shared a story with all of us about a baby who was born with three parents. They were able to do
this inside a petri dish. First, they put the moms chromosomes in a donor mitochondria. Next,
they added the dads sperm, creating a three person baby. This is known as in vitro fertilization.
From this, though, the baby will only have .000055% DNA from the donor mother. Next, he
went into depth about stem cells. Stem cells are the normal body cells, which also create new
human cells. A human has 220 stem cells in their body. There are four types of stem cells:
Embryonic, Adult, Cancer, and iPSCs (newly discovered). iPSCs stand for induced pluripotent
stem cells. This kind of cell can produce any of the 220 cells in your body. These cells were
recently made in a lab in 2006-2007. The discovery of these cells have lead to the ability to do
cell replacement therapy and human disease modeling, both contributing to curing diseases
among humans.
In miraculous event #2, one major contribution is explained that helped the project of
iPSCs excel. This project all started with a female sheep named Dolly. Dolly was a cloned sheep
made up of a reprogrammed mammary gland cell back into the pluripotent state. A man named
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Dr. Shimya Yamanaka was the one who discovered the signals in the oocyte of Dolly,
reprogramming the somatic nucleus back to its pluripotent state. This changed the one-way street
into a two-way street, becoming a major breakthrough in biology. In 2012, Dr. Shimya
Yamanaka won the Nobel Prize for his work. Continuing miraculous event #2 is Human disease
modeling. Human disease modeling helps us follow a genetic disease while still in vitro. With
this, we can take a skin sample and reprogram it to help cure diseases such as ALS, Macular
Degeneration, lung cancer, Diabetes, and many more. We are also able to create 3D printed
human organs and run tests on them, eliminating testing and drug testing done on animals. These
organs are made by a scaffold, which is the framework or basic shape of an organ. One way they
came about doing this was producing the organ of one species in the body of another. An
example of this is that a human kidney was grown in a pig, then transplanted back into the
human. A skin sample was taken from the human and a pig embryo was genetically modified so
that a pig kidney would not form inside the pig. Since skin was donated from the human, there
will be no rejection of the kidney because it is basically their own. This is a type of chimeric
embryo, or a mixture of cells from two species in a blastocyst, adding iPS of one species to the
blastocyst of another.
Lastly, miraculous event #3 began with what is known as genome editing, discovered in
2005. This works with a technique known as the knock out bad gene, knock in good gene. We
are able to identify a bad section of our DNA and cut it out. CRISPR/Cas9 is a bacterial cell
organelle. CRISPR is known as the guide RNA, or more recently, gRNA. This gRNA travels to
detect the foreign DNA code and has Cas9 (an enzyme- nuclease and helicase) cut the strand.
The helicase enzyme in Cas9 unwinds the DNA while the nuclease enzyme cuts it. This method
is faster and much easier than before. With this new advancement, we may be able to correct any
genetic disease in a lab, including one day cutting out cells of a cancer tumor by destroying the
signal sent between the cancer cell and white blood cell. Thus, making the cancer signal
worthless so that white blood cells can start attacking it.
The last miraculous event Rhine talked about was who would be next. Would our
generation step up to the plate and help continue this ongoing cycle of new discoveries. He stated
that if any one of us are interested by these topics, discoveries, and biology in general this would
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be a great field to go into. There is always job growth and new advancements being made. Even
though a lot has been accomplished in recent years, there is still much more to be done.
Many of the topics Sam rhine covered were very interesting and things unimaginable.
Although, one thing did spike my interest: genome editing. I think it is amazing that we can now
program a gene to identify a bad gene in our DNA and cut it out, fixing the problem. I have
never heard of CRISPR/Cas9 before this lecture and am excited to see all that it is going to
accomplish in the next few years. This will lead to many discoveries in biology, helping us cure
disease after disease.
Overall, I think that this lecture was a great experience. Sam Rhine discussed a lot of
current, fascinating breakthroughs in biology. These are great things to know before heading off
to college. For one, the college lecture aspect is great to get a feel for before next year. Secondly,
with these new discoveries and new technology, more and more jobs are opening up. Therefore,
it is beneficial to be familiar with these new jobs incase you are interested by one and want to
plan on majoring in that for college or do some research in that field. The only thing I didnt like
that much about his presentation was how we were a bit short on time, and I think that the last
topic was the most interesting, but due to the short time he didnt get to go into great detail about
CRISPR/Cas9. I would have loved to learn more about CRISPR/Cas9 and its predictions for the
future. Despite this one flaw, if I were a teacher thinking about taking my class to this
presentation, I would definitely take my juniors/seniors to go and see him. It opened your eyes
and showed you a lot more than just genetics and biological advancements.
I have not had any desire to become a research scientist; although, hearing about all the
new breakthroughs and what can be done is fascinating to me. This presentation opened my eyes
to new ideas that I thought were unimaginable. Knowing that we can now cure hundreds of
diseases by cutting the DNA code, reprogram iPSC, and help parents out and make a three
person baby is mind blowing and will touch so many lives. This presentation did change my
mind a little bit, helping me think that it would be really cool to become a part of this upcoming
research. If I were to partake in this opportunity of research, I would want to be apart of
something that would help cure diseases. I will continue to look for more opportunities in
research next year as I enter college.