Lecturer has boys tearing their hair out!

A guest lecturer from Kings College London had QE Sixth-Formers literally tearing out their own hair – as part of her presentation on DNA technology. Dr Elizabeth Glennon, from the Department of Neuroscience in Kings College’s Institute of Psychiatry, offered all 50 of the School’s Year 13 Biology students the opportunity to try out three processes used in current DNA research.

The day started with boys removing their own hair to provide root tips for a DNA extraction test. They then used the School’s own Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) machine to amplify the samples by a billion. The third and final process was gel electrophoresis, for which the DNA was loaded into a gel through which an electric current was run. This enabled the boys to observe banding patterns, as typically seen in genetic fingerprinting.

""“The boys found this an interesting and enriching day,” said Biology teacher Martin Bassett-Jones. “It provided a rare opportunity for them to use modern-day genetic technology in their own classroom.”

The boys used the techniques they had been shown to amplify copies of DNA taken from tails of transgenic mice (mice with mutant copies of a human gene cloned into them) to compare with normal mice DNA. Dr Glennon explained how the research with mice may help to provide a cure for Alzheimer’s disease.