First Night Questions
August 23, 2007
10 questions from tonight's material - work with someone else (introduce yourself!) and spend ~1 minute on each question
1. Compare the various definitions of Biotechnology. Think of three three examples of human needs that are met by applications of biotechnology?
Are there any applications you can list that are not related to meeting human needs?
2. List three things which you think might be potential risks of biotechnology and genetic engineering.
3. Two states in the US top the chart in terms of numbers of Biotech Companies (420 and 193, respectively; Florida, in comparison, has 33). What two states top this list, and why do you think this is?
4. What drugs come to mind (if any) when you hear the terms "Recombinant DNA Drugs" or "Monoclonal Antibody-based drugs". List a few here (don't feel bad if you can't list any..)
5. How much money (in Millions) do you estimate it takes for a biotech company to get 1 drug to market?
6. How much time (in years) do you estimate it takes for a biotech company to get 1 drug to market??
7. In the readings for tonight, Eli Lilly recently announced that the FDA had granted approval for the use of Humatrope (human growth hormone) in children who are healthy, but short in stature. Discuss some of the realities of this treatment (bullet points), and whether the benefits of this treatment justify its use in children
- Drug delivery
- Total cost ($)
- Duration of treatment
- Drug side effects
8. In the readings for tonight: One of the continuing controversies about Epogen, a RBC-boosting drug, involves medicare funding for this blockbuster drug (>$4B in sales/yr). Medicare would like to keep some dialysis patients at a 'sub-optimal' hemacrit (RBC level) to reduce the amount of Epo subsidized by Medicare. These patients would be slightly anemic, weak, and tired, but not as much as if they didn't receive any Epo! Please comment on the on this issue from the perspective of
- The patient
- The physician treating these patients
Effect of the Medicare Decision---> Amgen to Cut Jobs, a First for the Biotech Giant.
9. Social Responsibility:
- What do you think are the top three (3) chronic diseases worldwide (Diabetes is #4 - kills 1,000,000 people/ year!)
- Cardiovascular disease (Heart disease/stroke),
- Cancer (Colon, Breast, Lung),
- Lung disease (Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease COPD)
Note: many of these are smoking and weight related!
- Which three (3) infectious diseases do you think cause more than 6 million deaths worldwide each year?
- 1. AIDS: 3 million people died of AIDS in the year 2000 (Human Immunodeficiency Virus, HIV)
- 2. TB 1.7 million deaths in 2000 (caused by the bacterium Mycobacterium tuburculosis).
- 3. Malaria . 1 million people , mostly children in Africa. Parasite (Plasmodium falciparum) transmitted by mosquitoes
- Why do you think biotech companies typically aren't doing much R&D to develop medicines for these 6 million people?
- Who is the exception?
10. In the readings for tonight, 3 groups simultaneously identified a candidate gene linked to development of MS. What is this gene?
- Knowing that defects in this gene are linked to development of MS, what drug might YOU, as a "fledgling biotechnologist", try to develop as a treatment for MS?
- How might your medicine be administered to patients?
10 minutes: Biotech 540 Trivial Pursuit: Just for fun! Here's your opportunity to be a Biol 540 smarty-pants:
Who ARE these good-lookin' scientists, and why will we be talking about them in class?? Take a wild guess if you have never seen them before.
What are these mysterious icons of bench science? Make something up if you don't know.
The NASDAQ's screaming nosedive: Code red for Biotech stocks. Describe what you see in the graph (left). What do you think happened on this fateful day?
The innocent tomato (right) has been genetically modified (GM, transgenic). For what (legitimate!) reason would anyone want to genetically modify a tomato? Take a guess.
Does anyone remember (OK, a long time ago...summer of 1994) the fatally flawed name(s) given to this little beauty that may have been, in part, responsible for its tragically early demise? (Make up a name if you think it's so easy!)
IMAGE OF THE DAY
Readings(1) Genentech: What is Biotechnology?
(2) The Motley Fool: It's the Revolution, Baby !
(3) January 2003: Nature: The Birth of Biotechnology
(4) July 11, 2004: One World Health: Saving the world on a shoestring budget
(5) NY Times 1 Sept 2005: F.D.A. Approves Drug Meant to Help Short Children Grow
(6) NY Times 30 July 2007: Advances Cited in Research on Multiple Sclerosis
(7) NY TImes 1 August 2007: Amgen Challenges New Medicare Policy