B3 - Function of Stem Cells

Information on how stem cells work, and differentiation.

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Function of Stem Cells

  • differentiation is when a cell changes to become specialised for a single job
  • the ability to differentiate is often lost at an early age, but not in plants
  • most cells in the human body are specialised to do a certain job
  • for example, red blood cells carry oxygen, but can't do anything else
  • some cells are undifferentiated, which means they can develop into specialised cells
  • undiferentiated cells are called STEM CELLS
  • stem cells change into specialised cells when they are given instructions to do so
  • the type of specialised cell they turn into depends on the instructions given
  • stem cells can be found in embryos
  • you can find stem cells in adults too, but they aren't versatile
  • you can only find them in certain places though, e.g. bone marrow
  • because adult stem cells aren't versatile, they can't turn into any cell - just certain ones
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