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Gene Therapy: Molecular Bandage?

How Do Viruses Recognize a Target Cell?

This activity exhibits how viruses bind to, and infect specific cells using two methods: a demonstration and paper cut-out models.

Learning Objectives
  • Students will understand how a virus “recognizes” and binds to a target cell.
  • Students will understand why specific viruses can be chosen to deliver genes to target cells.
How Do Viruses Recognize a Target Cell? (pdf)

Mapping Gene Therapy Concepts

Students organize the main points and issues for Gene Therapy into a concept map.

Learning Objectives
  • Students will be able to organize information using a concept map.
Mapping Gene Therapy Concepts (pdf)

Patient Education

Students create an educational brochure or poster that explains gene therapy in detail and summarizes the associated risks and challenges.

Learning Objectives
  • Students will demonstrate that they understand how gene therapy works, the tools and techniques used to deliver gene therapies, disease candidates for gene therapy, and associated risks and challenges.
Patient Education Brochure (pdf)

Positions, Beliefs and Values

Students review statements about gene therapy and determine how strongly they agree or disagree with each one. Students also write out the personal belief that leads them to their position.

Learning Objectives
  • Students will state their own opinion about who should have access to gene therapies, how gene therapies should be used, and to what extent the government should regulate gene therapies.
  • Students will examine and state the personal beliefs that shape their opinions about the various aspects of gene therapy.
  • Students will determine the values that underlie their personal beliefs about gene therapy.
Student Sheets (fillable pdf)
Teacher Guide (pdf)

Vector Selector

Students act as employees of a vector supply company to develop then "sell" the appropriate vector for a given gene therapy.

Learning Objectives
  • Students will design a solution to a problem by applying their knowledge of gene therapy and vectors.
  • Students will think critically about the properties of various vectors.
  • Students will communicate their thought process and rationale in choosing a specific vector for a given gene therapy scenario.
Student Pages (pdf)
Teacher Guide (pdf)
Vector Toolbox Organizer (fillable pdf)


Supported by a Science Education Partnership Award (SEPA) Grant No. R25RR023288 from the National Center for Research Resources.

The contents provided here are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of NIH.