Stem Cells

Embryonic stem cells:

  • Cells in an embryo are unspecialized
  • They divide to produce the differentiated cells in the body (differentiated = specialised)


Adult stem cells:

  • Are found in differentiated tissue, such as bone or skin
  • They divide to repair damaged cells


Research using stem cells:

  • All stem cells
    • Can replace faulty cell with healthy cell
    • May produce cancer cells instead of healthy cells
  • Embryonic stem cells
    • Easy to extract from embryo
    • Produce any type of cell
    • Embryo destroyed when cell removed – some think embryos have the right to live
    • Body recognises the cells as ‘different’ and will reject them without the use of drugs
  • Adult stem cells
    • No embryo destroyed so no ethical issues
    • If taken from the person being treated, it will not be rejected by the body
    • Difficult to find and extract
    • Only produces a few types of cell