Overview: This case discusses Nicholas' experiences with sickle cell disease. The case begins with watching a video where Nicholas and his mother, Bridget, talk about living with sickle cell disease. The case is organized into three sections that explores the molecular basis of Nicholas' pain crises, and mechanisms of action and implications of his current treatment with a small molecule drug, called hydroxyurea. It also discusses novel approaches being used and developed to treat sickle cell disease.
Learning Objectives: The case was developed at the interface of Biology and Chemistry to enable introductory biology students explore chemical interactions that stabilize the structure and enable functions of biological molecules; and introductory chemistry students in applying their knowledge of intra- and inter-molecular forces to authentic biological contexts. The case can even be used to teach advanced students concepts in biochemistry, cell and molecular biology, such as oxygen binding, drug design, and gene therapy approaches to treat sickle cell disease. There is flexibility in depth of content coverage and range of additional related topics and molecules that can be included in the discussions. By the end of the case, students should develop some basic understanding of bio-molecular structure-function relationships.
Molecules explored: The primary molecule studied in this case is hemoglobin, including structures of native, mutant, and variant proteins; and complexes with drugs and various small molecular ligands.
Implementation: The case can be implemented using either a flipped approach and/or in-class discussions.
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