5 Creative Ways to Teach About Viral Gene Therapy (VGT)

Akanksha Saxena

Viral Gene Therapy (VGT) is an innovative and scientifically grounded approach in which viral vectors are utilized to deliver therapeutic genes for the treatment of various genetic disorders, including heart failure. This promising method aims to address the underlying genetic causes of diseases and has the potential to revolutionize medical interventions by providing targeted and precise treatments at the molecular level.

We understand that teaching novel topics like VGT can be challenging for educators as it introduces a variety of complex phenomena and ideas that might be beyond students’ comprehension. But only when students understand the underlying scientific principles and technologies involved, they can gather a deeper appreciation for the interdisciplinary nature of biomedical research. 

For this reason, we enlist 5 creative ways that can equip students with concepts related to VGT while keeping them interested in the subject.

1. Use Interactive Models and Simulations

Interactive models and simulations provide valuable tools for educators to teach young learners about VGT and its relevance in addressing heart failure. You can use virtual simulation to elucidate the multifactorial causes of heart failure, including coronary artery disease and hypertension. 

The simulation may incorporate electron microscopy imagery to demonstrate the visualization of the viral particles and the co-transfection of mammalian cells to illustrate the process of gene transfer. These Interactive Viral Gene Therapy Models like the one provided by Labster allow learners to delve into the intricate anatomy and function of a healthy heart versus that of a heart failure patient, facilitating a comprehensive understanding of this intricate subject matter.

Preview of GTV 4 simulation showing a heart.

2. Inspiring Learners by Connecting to Career Prospects

When teaching about VGT to students, it can be inspiring to connect the subject to its potential career prospects. Educators can list a diversity of career paths that can be thrilling to them:

  • Researchers 
  • Clinicians
  • Biotechnology entrepreneurs 

You can also incorporate success stories of patients who have benefited from VGT for heart failure, emphasizing the transformative impact of this treatment approach and instilling a sense of purpose and motivation among learners.

3. Learning with Games and Activities

Educators can rely on games and activities that have been scientifically proven to serve as effective pedagogical tools for imparting knowledge about this therapy and its applications. You can use a game that simulates the steps involved in VGT development. Labster provides an arena for students to learn as they play a Virtual Fitness Game with mice to validate a gene as a therapeutic target for gene therapy. Since this is a virtual game, no real mice will be harmed and results are quickly available instead of 5 weeks!

Labster viral gene therapy lab setup.

Other ways to engage students in Ed-games and activities are:

  • Gamified approach to selecting appropriate viral vectors & therapeutic genes. 
  • Activities like constructing 3D models of viral vectors.

4. Connecting the Topic to Real-World Applications

When teaching VGT to students, it is crucial to connect the topic to real-world applications, providing students with tangible examples to motivate them. This can be done in many ways including quoting real-world cases where VGT has been successfully used in clinical trials or approved treatments for heart failure patients. 

Exploring ethical considerations associated with VGT like patient consent and genetic modification encourages students to critically examine the broader societal implications of this technology. Lastly, highlighting the interdisciplinary nature of VGT by exploring its connections with genetics, molecular biology, and biotechnology allows students to see how this field intersects with other scientific disciplines, broadening their understanding of its potential applications.

5. Infusing Technology into Study Plans

Educators can do the following things to infuse technology into their VGT study plans:

  1. Utilize Virtual Reality (VR) and Virtual Labs to allow students to explore the anatomy and function of the heart in both healthy and heart failure conditions, providing an immersive learning experience.
  2. Incorporate multimedia presentations to illustrate the design and mechanism of therapeutic gene delivery using rAAV as a viral vector.
  3. Facilitate online research activities, guiding students to explore scientific articles and case studies related to VGT for heart failure.

Final thoughts

Engaging students through an interesting teaching approach is essential when covering the topic of Viral Gene Therapy. By employing scientifically informed strategies, educators can captivate students' attention and create an optimal learning environment. An intriguing approach aids in facilitating the comprehension of intricate scientific concepts related to gene therapy and ensures better retention of the material.


  1. Dorn, D. S. (1989). Simulation games: One more tool on the pedagogical shelf. Teaching Sociology, 1-18.
a man sitting in front of a computer monitor
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