Unit 4: Hubris and Nemesis

Article: Human Chimeras Already Exist

A chimera, by Jacopo Ligozzi, between 1590 and 1610, \ccpd

Before You Read

  1. Skim the next reading. What do you think is the author’s purpose of the text: to inform, entertain, or to persuade? How will that affect the way you take notes on the reading?

  2. Before you read the article, do some research about what “chimera” means in the field of genetics. You could start here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chimera_(genetics) .

Vocabulary in Context

Guess the vocabulary in bold. Use the context to guess.

  1. The news that researchers want to create human-animal chimeras has generated controversy recently, and may conjure up ideas about Frankenstein-ish experiments.
  2. One way that chimeras can happen naturally in humans is that a fetus can absorb its twin.
  3. This can occur with fraternal twins, if one embryo dies very early in pregnancy, and some of its cells are “absorbed” by the other twin.
  4. …news outlets reported the story of a woman named Karen Keegan, who needed a kidney transplant and underwent genetic testing along with her family, to see if a family member could donate one to her.
  5. During such transplants, which can be used for example to treat leukemia, a person will have their own bone marrow destroyed and replaced with bone marrow from another person.
  6. In some cases, all of the blood cells in a person who received a bone marrow transplant will match the DNA of their donor. But in other cases, the recipient may have a mix of both their own blood cells and donor ones…
  7. More commonly, people may exhibit so-called microchimerism—when a small fraction of their cells are from someone else.
  8. The study found that the women had fetal cells in all of these tissues. The researchers knew that the cells were from the fetus, and not from the mother, because the cells contained a Y chromosome (found only in males) and the women had all been carrying sons.

Go to the following link for the reading: https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/3-human-chimeras-that-already-exist/

Then come back to answer the questions below.

Comprehension and Critical Thinking Questions

Answer the following questions according to the article.

  1. According to this article, what is a chimera?
  2. What is the first way mentioned in the article that human chimeras can happen?
  3. Why were Karen Keegan’s children not a kidney donor match?
  4. What is the second situation mentioned that might cause a human chimera?
  5. What is the third way that human chimeras can happen?
  6. What does the author mean that “researchers want to create human-animal chimeras”? What do researchers want to do with human-animal chimeras?

CEFR Level: CEF Level C1


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It’s All Greek to Me! by Charity Davenport is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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