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The Search for Better Health
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4. The Search for Better Health


When physiological processes malfunction, the body tries to repair the damage. The process is similar in all living things and it is only when the process fails to contain the damage that disease can be recognised.

Humans have long recognised the symptoms of disease both in themselves and the animals and plants around them. Since the beginnings of recorded history, they have noted the signs that reveal that the body is malfunctioning. Increasing understanding of the causes of disease together with accompanying advances in technology have changed approaches to treatment and management of disease.

The search for measures to treat and manage diseases of humans and other organisms continues and this search is paralleled by continued refinements in technology.

This module increases students’ understanding of the history, nature and practice of biology, the applications and uses of biology, and the implications of biology for society and the environment.


NOTE   This is only that part of the syllabus that specifies outcomes - there is much more to the syllabus.  This content statement is provided to you as a guide to what you should study in preparation for examinations.  It has been copied from the official document, but the numbering  system is my own.

The dot points in regular typeface are prefixed by “Students learn to -” and those in italics are prefixed by “Students -”.

Click on the links for notes, prep and practical report requirements

1.  What is a healthy organism?

1.1  discuss the difficulties of defining the terms ‘health’ and ‘disease’

1.2  outline how the function of genes, mitosis, cell differentiation and specialisation assist in the maintenance of health

1.3  use available evidence to analyse the links between gene expression and maintenance and repair of body tissues

Notes on 4.1

2.Over 3000 years ago the Chinese and Hebrews were advocating cleanliness in food, water and personal hygiene

2.1  distinguish between infectious and non-infectious disease

2.2  identify data sources, plan and choose equipment or resources to perform a first-hand investigation to identify microbes in food or in water

2.3  explain why cleanliness in food, water and personal hygiene practices assist in control of disease

2.4  identify the conditions under which an organism is described as a pathogen

2.5  gather, process and analyse information from secondary sources to describe ways in which drinking water can be treated and use available evidence to explain how these methods reduce the risk of infection from pathogens

Notes on 4.2

  1. 3.During the second half of the nineteenth century, the work of Pasteur and Koch and other scientists stimulated the search for microbes as causes of disease

3.1  Students learn to describe the contribution of Pasteur and Koch to our understanding of infectious diseases

3.2  Students perform an investigation to model Pasteur’s experiment to identify the role of microbes in decay

3.3  Students learn to distinguish between:

  1. -prions

  2. -viruses

  3. -bacteria

  4. -protozoans

  5. -fungi

  6. -macro-parasites

  7. and name one example of a disease caused by each type of pathogen

3.4  Students gather and process information to trace the historical development of our understanding of the cause and prevention of malaria.

3.5  Students identify data sources, gather process and analyse information from secondary sources to describe one named infectious disease in terms of its:

  1. -cause

  2. -transmission

  3. -host response

  4. -major symptoms

  5. -treatment

  6. -prevention

  7. -control

3.6  Students learn to  identify the role of antibiotics in the management of infectious disease.

3.7  Students gather and process information from secondary sources to discuss problems relating to antibiotic resistance

Notes on 4.3

4.Often we recognise an infection by the symptoms it causes. The immune response is not so obvious, until we recover

4.1  identify defence barriers to prevent entry of pathogens in humans:

  1. -skin

  2. -mucous membranes

  3. -cilia

  4. -chemical barriers

  5. -other body secretions

4.2  gather, process and present information from secondary sources to show how a named disease results from an imbalance of microflora in humans

4.3  identify antigens as molecules that trigger the immune response

4.4  explain why organ transplants should trigger an immune response

4.5  identify defence adaptations, including:

  1. -inflammation response

  2. -phagocytosis

  3. -lymph system

  4. -cell death to seal off pathogen

Notes on 4.4

5.MacFarlane Burnet’s work in the middle of the twentieth century contributed to a better understanding of the immune response and the effectiveness of immunisation programs

5.1  identify the components of the immune response:

  1. -antibodies

  2. -T cells

  3. -B cells

5.2  describe and explain the immune response in the human body in terms of:

             *   interaction between B and T lymphocytes;

             *   the mechanisms that allow interaction between B and T lymphocytes;

             *   the range of T lymphocyte types and the difference in their roles

5.3  outline the way in which vaccinations prevent infection

5.4  process, analyse and present information from secondary sources to evaluate the effectiveness of vaccination programs in preventing the spread and occurrence of once common diseases, including smallpox, diphtheria and polio

5.5  outline the reasons for the suppression of the immune response in organ transplant patients

Notes on 4.5

  1. 6.Epidemiological studies involve the collection and careful statistical analysis of large quantities of data. Such studies assist the causal identification of non-infectious diseases

6.1  identify and describe the main features of epidemiology using lung cancer as an example

6.2  gather, process and analyse information to identify the cause and effect relationship of smoking and lung cancer

6.3  identify causes of non-infectious disease using an example from each of the following categories:

  1. -inherited diseases

  2. -nutritional deficiencies

  3. -environmental diseases

6.4  identify data sources, plan and perform a first-hand investigation or gather information from secondary sources to analyse and present information about the occurrence, symptoms, cause, treatment/management of a named non-infectious disease

Notes on 4.6

7.Increased understanding has led to the development of a wide range of strategies to prevent and control disease

7.1  perform an investigation to examine plant shoots and leaves and gather first-hand information of evidence of pathogens and insect pests

7.2  discuss the role of quarantine in preventing the spread of disease and plants and animals into Australia or across regions of Australia

7.3  process and analyse information from secondary sources to evaluate the effectiveness of quarantine in preventing the spread of plant and animal disease into Australia or across regions of Australia

7.4  explain how one of the following strategies has controlled and/or prevented disease:

  1. -public health programs

  2. -pesticides

  3. -genetic engineering to produce disease-resistant plants and animals

7.5  gather and process information and use available evidence to discuss the changing methods of dealing with plant and animal diseases, including the shift in emphasis from treatment and control to management or prevention of disease

Notes on 4.7

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