Brainstem Students at Harry Perkins Research Institute

The Year 10 Brainstem classes had the opportunity to travel to the Perkins Institute for Medical Research this week.

We spent the day learning about concepts to do with genes and DNA medical research. We discovered how new and improving genetic knowledge and ideas are helping scientists become closer and closer to finding treatments and possible cures for thousands of diseases. One of these discoveries is using the gene-editing tool called CRISPR, (enzymes derived from bacteria that cut and edit strands of DNA).

We got to take part in practical experiments, where we used professional equipment like the micropipette and a mini centrifuge. We extracted and examined human blood cells to identify the fluorescent green cells which showed that the CRISPR worked in those cells and the normal cells did not undertake the CRISPR progress. We also analysed the data and learnt about how the DNA can be sequenced using the Sanger sequencing technique. Chloe Hudson and Sheldon Armstrong

We were fortunate to work with research scientists and Santa Maria past students, Nicola Prinsipe (2014) and Caitlin Tilsed (2012) who are currently working on their PhDs. Nicola and Caitlin helped us better understand the advanced technology used in medical research today.

The experiment we conducted focused on the effectiveness of CRISPR use in cells. We collected CRISPRed cells, calculated their efficacy, and prepared them for analysis with the context of treating sickle cell anaemia. It was a great experience working in a biosafety level 2 lab, using sophisticated equipment that we otherwise wouldn’t have access to.

Overall the day was extremely interesting and beneficial. We all gained a lot of knowledge, and it was fun doing some interactive learning. Shanice D’Silva

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