GCSE AQA Additional Science, Stem Cells Notes

Notes on Stem Cells and the implications around them. 

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  • Created on: 20-05-12 11:03
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Stem Cells
Stem cells are unspecialised cells that can differentiate into different
cells. This can include nerve cells etc.
We can use stem cells to fix illnesses and problems such as spinal
injuries. Spinal injuries can cause paralysis because spinal nerves do
not repair themselves. If we grow new nerve cells from stem cells,
these could be used to reconnect the spinal nerves and so people who
are paralysed could potentially walk again.
We could also potentially grow new organs to be used in transplant
surgery. As these could be made into a perfect match, they would not
be rejected by the body.
Other illnesses such as infertility and dementia could be treated
using stem cells.
Stem cells can be found in:
- adult bone marrow
human embryos
Problems
Ethical
Many embryonic stem cells come from aborted embryos or spare
embryos from fertility treatment.
People from ethical groups feel it is wrong to use a potential human
being as a source of cells.
Embryos cannot give permission, so some people it is a violation of
its human rights.
Medical
Use of embryonic stem cells has caused cancer in mice. It is a
concern that this might be the case in sick people too.
Making stem cells is: slow, difficult, expensive and hard to control.
The Future
We could possibly store the umbilical chord blood of each child for
use in later life if needed. This could overcome ethical issues.
Growing and using new adult stem cells.
Therapeutic Cloning - using cells from an adult person to create a
cloned early embryo of themselves as a source of perfectly matched
embryonic stem cells.

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