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Wednesday January 5, 2005
Intermediate +

THE ARTICLE

Japanese researchers have published a study in the Journal of Clinical Investigation reporting a major breakthrough that might pave the way for a possible cure of Parkinson disease. This brain disorder occurs when certain nerve cells (neurons) in a part of the brain die or become impaired. Normally, these cells produce a vital chemical known as dopamine, which allows smooth, coordinated function of the body's muscles and movement. When approximately 80% of the dopamine-producing cells are damaged, the symptoms of Parkinson disease (shaking, difficulty with balance, paralysis) appear. Parkinson disease affects both men and women in almost equal numbers. It shows no social, ethnic, economic or geographic boundaries. In the US, 60,000 new cases are reported each year.

The team from Kyoto University said experiments have shown that embryonic cells transplanted into monkey brains can reverse the debilitating effects of the degenerative disease, for which there is currently no cure. Tests on humans may occur within five years. Doctor Nobuo Hashimoto said, “There are many approaches to curing the disease, such as strong drugs or destruction of troubled cells in the brain, but use of embryonic stem cells is seen as an ideal and fundamental therapy for the disease.” The study suggests that stem cells taken from embryos can be used to replace damaged tissues in a whole variety of other diseases. Opponents of stem cell research, including US President George W. Bush, who has frozen all federal spending on its research, say using a human embryo for such research or even treatment is unethical.

POSSIBLE WARM UPS / COOL DOWNS

1. CHAT:  Talk in pairs or groups about Parkinson disease / stem cell research / brain disorders / losing your mental powers / paralysis / medical research ethics / animal (monkey) rights / cures for incurable diseases…
To make things more dynamic, try telling your students they only have one minute (or 2) on each chat topic before changing topics / partners. Change topic / partner frequently to energize the class.

2. EMBRYONIC STEM CELL BRAINSTORM: Brainstorm what the students know / think about stem cell research. In pairs / groups, discuss what is on the board.

3. SYMPTOMS: Put the following syptoms of Parkinson disease on the board. Students discuss each in turn to decide what life would be like with these symptoms:
• Tremor (shaking)
• Slowness of movement
• Rigidity (stiffness)
• Difficulty with balance
• Small, cramped handwriting
• Stiff facial expression
• Shuffling walk
• Muffled speech
• Depression
(Take a vote before and after this exercise on stem cell research to see if anyone changes their mind??).

4. 2-MINUTE DEBATES: Students face each other in pairs and engage in the following (for-fun) 2-minute debates. Students A are assigned the first argument, students B the second. Rotate pairs to ensure a lively pace and noise level is kept:
- Stem cell research is necessary to find cures. vs. Stem cell research is unethical.
- Stem cell research does no harm. vs Stem cell research destroys human life forms.
- Scientists will find a cure to every disease. vs. Impossible
- Fighting disease means world overpopulation. vs. Fighting disease means better quality of life.
- Fighting disease is only for rich nations. vs. Poorer nations are living much longer.
- We shouldn't be experimenting on animals. vs. We must make sure the medicine is safe for humans.
- More money should be spent on medical research, not wars. vs. Wars protect our society so we can research.


 
 

PRE-READING IDEAS

1. WORD SEARCH: Students look in their dictionaries / computer to find collocates, other meanings, information, synonyms … of the words ‘study’ and ‘freeze (frozen)’.

2. HEADLINE: Put the article headline on the board for students to talk about / predict / speculate. Pairs / groups formulate and present their own guesses as to the contents of the report.

3. TRUE / FALSE: Students look at the headline and predict whether they believe the following statements are true or false:

(a)  A cure has been found for Parkinson disease.  T / F
(b)  A major breakthrough might pave the way for a possible cure of Parkinson disease.  T / F
(c)  Parkinson disease is a neurological disorder.  T / F
(d)  Our brains need a chemical called dopamine to allow it to function smoothly.  T / F
(e)  Parkinson disease affects men much more than women.  T / F
(f)  Tests on humans may occur within five months. T / F
(g)  The use of embryonic stem cells can only cure Parkinson disease.  T / F
(h)  US President George W. Bush has greatly increased spending on stem cell research.  T / F 

4. SYNONYM MATCH: Students match the following synonyms from the article:

(a)

researchers

stopped

(b)

cure

handicap

(c)

impaired

deteriorating

(d)

vital

antidote

(e)

paralysis

wrong

(f)

debilitating

damaged

(g)

degenerative

perfect

(h)

ideal

essential

(i)

frozen

scientists

(j)

unethical

weakening

5. PHRASE MATCH: Students match the following phrases based on the article (sometimes more than one combination is possible):

(a)

major

the way

(b)

pave

embryo

(c)

brain

tissues

(d)

a vital chemical

Parkinson disease

(e)

the symptoms of

disease

(f)

embryonic

of other diseases

(g)

degenerative

breakthrough

(h)

replace damaged

known as dopamine

(i)

a whole variety

cells

(j)

human

disorder

 

WHILE READING ACTIVITIES

1. GAP-FILL:  Put the missing words under each paragraph into the gaps.

Parkinson disease breakthrough

Japanese researchers have published a __________ in the Journal of Clinical Investigation reporting a major __________ that might pave the way for a possible cure of Parkinson disease. This brain disorder occurs when certain nerve cells (neurons) in a part of the brain die or become __________. Normally, these cells produce a __________ chemical known as dopamine, which allows smooth, coordinated function of the body's muscles and movement. When approximately 80% of the dopamine-producing cells are damaged, the symptoms of Parkinson disease (shaking, difficulty with balance, paralysis) appear. Parkinson disease __________ both men and women in almost equal numbers. It shows no social, ethnic, economic or geographic boundaries. In the US, 60,000 new cases are reported each year.

 

affects
breakthrough
impaired
study
vital

The team from Kyoto University said experiments have __________ that embryonic cells transplanted into monkey brains can reverse the debilitating effects of the __________ disease, for which there is currently no __________. Tests on humans may occur within five years. Doctor Nobuo Hashimoto said, “There are many approaches to curing the disease, such as strong drugs or destruction of troubled cells in the brain, but use of embryonic stem cells is seen as an __________ and fundamental therapy for the disease.” The study suggests that stem cells taken from embryos can be used to replace damaged tissues in a whole variety of other diseases. Opponents of stem cell research, including US President George W. Bush, who has __________ all federal spending on its research, say using a human embryo for such research or even treatment is unethical.

inability
ideal
frozen
degenerative
cure

2. TRUE/FALSE:  Students check their answers to the T/F exercise.

3. SYNONYMS:  Students check their answers to the synonym exercise.

4. PHRASE MATCH: Students check their answers to the phrase match exercise.

5. QUESTIONS: Students make notes for questions they would like to ask the class about the article.

6. VOCABULARY:  Students circle any words they do not understand. In groups pool unknown words and use dictionaries to find the meanings.


 
 

POST READING IDEAS

1. ‘STUDY’/ ‘FREEZE’: Students make questions based on their findings from pre-reading activity #1.

2. GAP-FILL: Check the answers to the gap-fill exercise.

3. QUESTIONS:  Students ask the discussion questions they thought of above to their partner / group / class. Pool the questions for all students to share.

4. VOCABULARY: As a class, go over the vocabulary students circled above.

5. STUDENT-GENERATED 'STEM CELL' SURVEY: Pairs/Groups write down 3 questions based on the article. Conduct their surveys alone. Report back to partners to compare answers. Report to other groups / the whole class. Back in pairs students discuss their findings.

6. DISCUSSION: Students ask each other the following questions based on the article:

(a)  What do you think of stem cell research?
(b)  Do you think using cells from human embryos is wrong / unethical?
(c)  What do you think of experimenting on animals in research?
(d)  Do scientists have a responsibility to cause minimal / zero pain to animals?
(e)  Will scientists one day cure all disease?
(f)  Do you know anyone with Parkinson disease or other degenerative diseases?
(g)  How much money should governments spend on fighting brain diseases?
(h)  Does George Bush have the right to stop medical progress?
(i)  How is stem cell research viewed in your country?
(j)  Teacher’s additional questions

HOMEWORK

1. VOCAB EXTENSION: Choose several of the words from the text. Use a dictionary or the Google search field to build up more associations / collocations of each word.

2. INTERNET: Search the Internet and find more information on Parkinson disease. Share your findings with your class next lesson.

3. PARKINSON INFO: Create a poster on Parkinson disease.

4. LETTER TO GEORGE W.: Write a letter to United States president George W. Bush telling him your views on stem cell research.

ANSWERS

TRUE / FALSE:

(a)  A cure has been found for Parkinson disease.  F
(b)  A major breakthrough might pave the way for a possible cure of Parkinson disease.  T
(c)  Parkinson disease is a neurological disorder.  T
(d)  Our brains need a chemical called dopamine to allow it to function smoothly.  T
(e)  Parkinson disease affects men much more than women.  F
(f)  Tests on humans may occur within five months. F
(g)  The use of embryonic stem cells can only cure Parkinson disease.  F
(h)  US President George W. Bush has greatly increased spending on stem cell research.  F 

SYNONYM MATCH:

(a)

researchers

scientists

(b)

cure

antidote

(c)

impaired

damaged

(d)

vital

essential

(e)

paralysis

handicap

(f)

debilitating

weakening

(g)

degenerative

deteriorating

(h)

ideal

perfect

(i)

frozen

stopped

(j)

unethical

wrong

PHRASE MATCH:

(a)

major

breakthrough

(b)

pave

the way

(c)

brain

disorder

(d)

a vital chemical

known as dopamine

(e)

the symptoms of

Parkinson disease

(f)

embryonic

cells

(g)

degenerative

disease

(h)

replace damaged

tissues

(i)

a whole variety

of other diseases

(j)

human

embryo

GAP FILL:

Parkinson disease breakthrough

Japanese researchers have published a study in the Journal of Clinical Investigation reporting a major breakthrough that might pave the way for a possible cure of Parkinson disease. This brain disorder occurs when certain nerve cells (neurons) in a part of the brain die or become impaired. Normally, these cells produce a vital chemical known as dopamine, which allows smooth, coordinated function of the body's muscles and movement. When approximately 80% of the dopamine-producing cells are damaged, the symptoms of Parkinson disease (shaking, difficulty with balance, paralysis) appear. Parkinson disease affects both men and women in almost equal numbers. It shows no social, ethnic, economic or geographic boundaries. In the US, 60,000 new cases are reported each year.

The team from Kyoto University said experiments have shown that embryonic cells transplanted into monkey brains can reverse the debilitating effects of the degenerative disease, for which there is currently no cure. Tests on humans may occur within five years. Doctor Nobuo Hashimoto said, “There are many approaches to curing the disease, such as strong drugs or destruction of troubled cells in the brain, but use of embryonic stem cells is seen as an ideal and fundamental therapy for the disease.” The study suggests that stem cells taken from embryos can be used to replace damaged tissues in a whole variety of other diseases. Opponents of stem cell research, including US President George W. Bush, who has frozen all federal spending on its research, say using a human embryo for such research or even treatment is unethical.

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