Provocative thoughts:teaching ethics to undergraduate bioscience students Dr. Tara Hurst Nottingham Trent University
Case 1: Use of animals in biotechnology • Module: Antibody and DNA Technology • Level: 2nd year undergraduates • Format: part of lecture on antibody production
Ethical considerations: what is wrong with using ascites? • Injection of hybridomas into mouse peritoneum along with adjuvants: ascites fluid. • What is ascites fluid? Abdominal swelling
Of mice and men: ascites fluid in humans • ‘beer belly’ – sign of liver disease, other gastrointestinal health problems • Also found in malnourished individuals
Ethics • Use of animals: ethical treatment, aims to prevent suffering • Three R’s: • Reduce • Refine • Replace • Using non-ascites methods reduces number of animals used and reduces suffering since the initial immunisation should have only minimal side-effects (as in humans)
Genetic testing • Module: Genetics and Immunology • Level: 1st year undergraduates • Format: question posed in advance on a hand-out given in a practical and discussed in the lecture
Question 6 When is the genetic testing of children not appropriate?
Answers to question 6 • There is no single correct answer. • This represents an ethical dilemma. Why? • Testing a child for a disease that only presents late in life could limit their life choices. • It also precludes the child deciding for themselves: the right to know or not know is taken away • The recommendations of the British Society for Human Genetics are: • Testing should be done if it will affect the treatment of the child and better management of their condition (e.g. PKU) • If the disease presents later in life or if the condition is associated with reproductive risks: • Testing should be approached with caution • Should preferentially be delayed until the child is old enough to decide for themselves.