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Blood Testing

Back in Body Bits Week, you learnt about your blood and that it is made up of different parts such as red blood cells and plasma.

Did you know that your blood can tell doctors and scientists about your health?

Blood tests are one of the most common types of medical test and have a wide range of uses:

  • Assess our general health
  • Check if we have an infection
  • See how well certain organs are working
  • Screen for certain genetic conditions

In this video you can see a laboratory in Ninewells Hospital where blood samples are tested. As so many people have blood tests every day, either at their doctor’s surgery or in hospital, scientists use machines and robots to help them. This makes it quicker to get results!

SHARE: Recruiting for Research, Improving our Health

Normally, the leftover blood is thrown away but in Scotland, we have people who donate theirs to scientists so that they can study it. Almost 300,000 people have given permission to the Scottish Health Research Register (SHARE) based at Ninewells Hospital to use any leftover blood following routine clinical testing.

You might wonder why scientists want to study this leftover blood. Your blood contains DNA. DNA is found in every cell of your body and is a genetic code that is an instruction manual to build you! It is your DNA that causes your eyes and hair to be a certain colour, for example.

Dr Xand and Dr Chris from Operation Ouch explain how DNA builds a person here (from 3:54):

How to Build a Human | DNA | Operation Ouch | Nugget

Your DNA can also influence the way you react to disease and medicines used as treatments. Everyone has different DNA (apart from identical twins/triplets) which means people will respond differently to illness and medicines. If scientists can understand these differences, doctors can treat people better.

Did you know that 10% of the Scottish population has already volunteered for genetic studies into diabetes, obesity, cancer, asthma, eczema or heart disease?

SHARE is also a register for people who are willing to be invited to take part in research projects. You can learn more about what they do on their careers profile [link]. Anyone aged over 11 years can join the SHARE register. If you are interested, please visit: www.registerforshare.org.

Activity: Genetics Dictionary and Word Search

Scientists have lots of technical words to explain the topic of genetics. You will have heard some such as sperm, genes and chromones explained by Dr Xand and Dr Chris in the above video. Check out our genetics dictionary to understand what each word means and then find all the words in this word search. If you would like to make the activity more challenging, you can search for the definition yourself and compare with our dictionary definition.

This page about genetics may help you: https://kids.britannica.com/

Genetics Dictionary

Chromosome (KRO-moh-some) - threadlike structure that carry the genes and are made up of a substance called DNA.

DNA - DNA is short for deoxyribonucleic (dee-ox-see-ri-bo-nyoo-CLAY-ik) acid. It carries all the information about how a living thing such as a human will look and function.

Dominant - when the word dominant is used in relation to genes, it means that that gene will be the trait that you will end up with. For example, as shown in the video if you get one gene for blonde hair from the egg and the other gene for black hair from the sperm, the black hair gene is dominant. The person will end up with black hair.

Gene - basic unit that carries genetic information. A gene is an instruction for different features or traits. Each cell in the human body contains about 25,000 to 35,000 genes.

Genetics - the study of how certain features are passed on – or inherited - from parents to their offspring.

Egg - also called ovum. The egg comes from the female and contains half of the genetic information (genes) needed to create offspring.

Nucleus (NOO-clee-us) - is found inside a cell and contains our chromosomes and genes.

Recessive - when the word recessive is used in relation to genes, it means that that gene will be the trait that you will not end up with. In the definition of dominant, the recessive gene is the gene for blonde hair.

Sperm - The sperm comes from the male and contains half of the genetic information (genes) needed to create offspring.

Trait (trate) - a feature or characteristic, such as eye colour, that is passed on to offspring from their parents.

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