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Westlakes Science Park- Genetics Department Visit

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Westlakes Science Park - Genetics Department Visit On Wednesday 21st of April I visited Westlakes Science Park to find out more about its genetics department and what it does. Westlakes is a research institute and it does research into many things to do with environmental sciences and health as well as other things. Westlakes does research and industrial consultancy for bigger businesses. Westlakes has many different sections and the part that I visited was the genetics department which does both the research and the consultancy. Its research is into sensitivity to radiation which is the variation in how much radiation affects different people. Its consultancy is for BNFL this is the radiation effects on workers that have worked there and retired, that are working there now and the offspring of workers to find out if radiation on workers affects their offspring. The two aspects of genetics that they use are cytogenetics and molecular genetics and this report is for AS level students. Cytogenetics Cytogenetics is the microscopic analysis of changes to chromosomes; they are a good biological marker as radiation affects chromosomes quite easily and leaves pretty obvious effects. ...read more.


The FISH is limited because at Westlakes they only use it on a few of the many chromosomes in each cell so it is not used to its full extent Chromosomal Radiosensitivity and the G2 Assay It is now known that different people are more sensitive to radiation than other people are because of genetically determined differences in people's ability to identify and repair DNA damages. Also it has been suggested that people who are genetically susceptible to cancer are more chromosomally radiosensitive, basically they would show more damage if exposed to radiation than people that have a normal radiosensitivity would. Because reports have linked the two it has been suggested that cellular Radiosensitivity could be used to indicate the chance of developing cancer in the normal population. Westlakes uses the G2 assay to study the suggestion about radiosensitivity. The G2 assay irradiates the peripheral blood lymphocytes in vitro during the G2 stage of the cell replication cycle to damage the DNA. The cells are then left to reach metaphase and they are then stained using solid staining as I told you about earlier so that when looked at under a microscope the DNA damage that was not repaired shows as chromatid gaps of breaks. ...read more.


This is done using minisatellites, gel electrophoresis and PCR (polymerase chain reaction). The method for this is to take a blood sample from the mother, the father and the offspring and then extract to DNA from the blood, then make sure that you are dealing with blood related family from all parts, this is by minisatellite loci which is basically DNA fingerprinting but using single locus rather than multilocus probes. PCR is now used, PCR is just the production of more of a persons DNA from a small sample of DNA. Once the PCR is done the alleles from the parents and offspring are compared with gel electrophoresis and then use Southern Blotting to compare the offspring with the parents and if there is a mutation the offspring doesn't quite match up with either parent at one point. Despite all of the research into this so far no genetic mutations have been found in any of the offspring at all. Sources for most pictures are a handout that we were given on the visit with one of the pictures from a website stated on the picture and the diagram on the left hand side of the last page was drawn by me in Microsoft Word. WORD COUNT = 1142 ?? ?? ?? ?? Stephen Wilson ...read more.

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