B2: Stem Cells

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  • Stem cells
    • Unspecialised cells which have the ability to develop into other cells
      • When tissues and organs start to develop, they form specialised cells.
        • e.g. Muscles, skin, liver
      • Once a cell has specialised, it is unable to change into another type of cell
        • e.g. you cannot use a muscle cell to try and grow skin cells
    • retain the ability to differentiate into some different types of cells
      • Have the potential form producing cells by mitosis to replace damaged tissue.
    • Source of stem cells in plants
      • Meristems
        • Theses are growing points in the tips of shoots and roots
    • Sources of stem cells in animals
      • Adult stem cells
        • From bone marrow, umbilical cord, babies teeth
        • The body will accept the cells so there will be no rejection issues
        • No moral or ethical issues involving the destruction of embryos
        • Complicated and the technology is still being developed
      • Embryonic stem cell
        • from embryo's left over from in vitro fertility (IVF) treatment
        • Source of cells readily available from IVF treatments
        • Some people believe that destroying embryos means the destruction of potential human life
    • Uses of stem cell technology
      • Can lead to the treatment or a cure for many dieases
      • Can be used to replace damaged tissues, e.g. trachea


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