Scientists Grow Egg Cells in Lab

December 20, 2016

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article. 

1. generate / ˈdʒɛn əˌreɪt / (v.) – to create something
Example: They successfully generated electricity using the device.

2. approach / əˈproʊtʃ / (n.) – a method followed to solve a problem
Example: They analyzed the problem well to come up with the best approach.

3. surrogate / ˈsɜr əˌgeɪt / (adj.) – describing someone who takes the role and does the tasks of another person
Example: A surrogate came to the meeting instead of the mayor.

4. applicable / ˈæp lɪ kə bəl / (adj.) – can be applied to a certain situation
Example: The treatment may only be used in animals and is not applicable to humans.

5. manipulate / məˈnɪp yəˌleɪt / (v.) – to change something to achieve a certain goal
Example: They manipulated the data to make the study look valid.


Read the text below.
Japanese scientists have successfully grown egg cells in a laboratory using only chemicals and stem cells, or cells that can be turned into other kinds of cells or body parts.

Stem cell biologist Katsuhiko Hayashi and his team from Kyushu University became the first scientists to generate healthy and functioning egg cells in a petri dish /ˈpi tri dɪʃ /. Before this breakthrough experiment, egg cells can only be created by implanting stem cells into a mouses ovaries. However, Katsuhikos team used a different approach.

The scientists obtained stem cells from the tip of a mouse’s tail, then they put the cells in a dish. The dish was filled with a mixture of chemicals made to resemble the substance inside mouse ovaries. After five weeks, they were able to harvest thousands of egg cells from the dish.

After successfully creating egg cells, the team tested next if they are functional. They fertilized the egg cells and implanted them in surrogate mothers. Afterward, 11 live mice were successfully born from the laboratory-made egg cells.

Some scientists believe that the discovery could lead to more breakthroughs in treating infertility. However, even though the process was promising, Professor Hayden Homer /ˈheɪd n ˈhoʊ mər /, a fertility specialist from the University of Queensland, says that it may not yet be applicable to humans. This is because the development of human egg cells is longer and more complicated.

Another reason why the experiment might not be applied to humans is ethical concerns. Critics worry that the discovery could lead scientists closer to creating “designer babies,” which refer to infants whose genes have been manipulated to ensure that they have desirable traits.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.  

Discussion A

·         What are possible dangers of applying Dr. Hayashi’s procedure to humans? Discuss.
·         Do you think that the experiment is useful? Why or why not?

Discussion B

·         Do you think that human DNA should be modified? Why or why not?
·         What is the importance of learning more about stem cells?

December 20, 2016