Simulation week 2:
Molecular cloning is one of the techniques that has laid the foundation for modern biotechnology. The technique was first used in the 1980′s and allowed the insertion of an insulin gene derived from humans to be inserted into yeast and coli bacteria. This allowed the microbes to produce insulin, which is the primary medication in diabetes treatment. Since then, molecular cloning and genetic engineering has become one of the most fundamental techniques ranging from pharmaceutical production, bioethanol production along with medical to basic research. In the Molecular Cloning lab, you will learn how to assemble an expression vector containing RAD52 and GFP. The aim is to control the expression level of RAD52 with Doxycyline and to monitor the expression level by observing the GFP signal.
In the first part of the Molecular Cloning lab, you will learn how to extract DNA from yeast cells and restrict enzyme isolation in DNA from another vector. First, you will prepare the extracted DNA and measure the concentration, and then, you will assemble a vector containing a gene of interest (RAD52) and GFP using the correct ligase, buffer and temperature of incubation.
The assembled vector will be transformed into yeast cells using electroporation. RAD52 gene expression is regulated by a gene regulator. When Doxycyline is added to the media, RAD52 gene will be silenced. GFP is used as a reporter gene to RAD52, cells with active RAD52 will also express GFP and cells with silenced RAD52 will not express GFP. The GFP signal is monitored by exposing the cells to blue light.
DNA damage and repair system
RAD52 is hypothesized to be an important player in DNA repair. You will perform an experiment comparing the result of induced DNA damage through UV radiation in cells expressing RAD52 and cells with silenced RAD52. If RAD52 is important in performing DNA repair, cells with silenced RAD52 will not survive the UV radiation treatment. All in all, the Molecular Cloning lab will give you an overview of the molecular cloning techniques and the reporter gene, and you will learn all about DNA damage and DNA repair system.
Simulation week 3:
In the Protein Synthesis lab, you will learn about the difference between protein synthesis in prokaryote (using E. coli) and eukaryote (using CHO cells).
Prepare recombinant Erythropoietin and use the mass spectrometer
Your first task in the lab will be to prepare recombinant Erythropoietin that is transfected into E. coli and CHO cells. The lab assistant will prepare the recombinant EPO and you will measure the mass to charge ratio using a mass spectrometer. Not sure how to handle the mass spectrometer? No worries! You can just take out your labpad and find an animated video to learn the basics.
Study the translation process from mRNA to amino acids
You will also learn about the translation process from mRNA to amino acids and how amino acids are assembled to proteins. A 3D animation is shown describing how triplets of codons are translated into amino acids, how these amino acids are joined together by peptide bonds creating a primary structure of protein, and furthermore, how the primary structure is folded into secondary, tertiary and quaternary structure.
Investigate doping in bike athletes
In the last part of the Protein Synthesis lab, you will use mass spectrometry and investigate if there are any athletes who are using rhEPO as a doping substance. You will do so by collaborating with the doping agent who collects urine samples in a large bicycle race.
Will you be able to detect if any of the athletes are using doping?
Simulation week 7:
In this simulation, you will learn how tumor cells send signals to surrounding cells to help promote tumor growth, and how this signal is transmitted inside the cell.
Analyze patient samples by western blotting
As a researcher in the R&D department of a big pharma company, your mission will be to test the hypothesis that increased blood vessel growth, also called angiogenesis, plays a role in breast cancer development. To investigate this idea, you will perform a western blot experiment to test for the expression of vascular endothelial growth factor receptor (VEGFR) expression in patient samples compared to healthy tissue samples.
Learn about VEGFR signal transduction
Following the interpretation of initial results, you will learn more about how VEGFR, a receptor tyrosine kinase (RTK) transmits an external signal to the inside of the cell, and how this influences angiogenesis. You will be able to follow the process in a 3D animation.
Develop a strategy for breast cancer therapy
Finally, your mission is to test different inhibitors targeting VEGFR signaling. You will design an experimental approach to test for the activity of this specific class of RTKs.
Will you be able to identify a promising new drug candidate for treating patients with breast cancer?
Simulation week 10:
Trying to capture a specific protein amongst thousands of types of proteins is like looking for a needle in a haystack. In the ELISA simulation, you will join scientists who are using a groundbreaking technique for detecting and quantifying substances, such as protein. The method is called Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). You will help Dr. Lisa quantify Factor IX protein, which is used for hemophilia drugs.
Detecting Factor IX
In the simulation, Dr. Lisa is working on producing protein used for treating hemophilia patients. The protein is called Factor IX. She produces them in different cell lines. However, she needs your help to determine which cell lines produce Factor IX the most. To help Dr. Lisa, you will perform an ELISA technique.
Scientists have developed numerous kinds of ELISA. You will learn the principles of the most common ELISA method. ELISA is about antibody and antigen, which you should already be familiar with. Once you understand the principle of each type of ELISA, you will have to decide which ELISA technique you want to use.
Analyzing the results
Not all experiments run smoothly. In this simulation, you will compare good and bad results. By comparing the results, you will be able to perform basic troubleshooting for your results. Finally, you will interpolate your data to find out which cell lines are producing Factor IX the most.
Will you be able to help Dr. Lisa in reducing the production cost of hemophilia drug?