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Brain POP: Stem cells: They are what they need to be

What are stem cells and why are they so controversial? In this BrainPOP movie, two characters give you the rundown on what makes stem cells different from regular cells. They’ll show you how stem cells may one day be used to cure diseases and grow new organs and limbs. You’ll also learn the differences between the various types of stem cells, including embryonic stem cells, induced pluripotent stem cells, and adult stem cells. Do you support stem cell research? Watch the movie to learn the basics and decide for yourself! 

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'Breast stem cells'

An overview of the human mammary gland with a focus on the role of breast stem cells during pregnancy. The primary function of the mammary gland is to produce milk to nourish young offspring. The mammary gland is comprised of three main cell types; alveolar, ductal and myoepithelial cells. During pregnancy, the mammary gland increases in size due to the action of breast stem cells, which can mature into any of the three mammary gland cell types.

In 2011, a Visual Science Award was given to the best short that depicts a science in a visually-engaging manner. This year’s winner was “Breast Stem Cells”

'Embryonic Stem Cell Patents Banned': Theory of Knowledge

The embryonic stem cell debate generates strong and emotive knowledge issues, which is evidenced by the fact that the case was passed all the way up to the European Court of Justice.  With the ban on patenting methods based on the destruction of embryonic stem cells, we add the elements of patenting and intellectual ownership (and of course the knock-on effects to funding, progress and public perception).  After reading through, understanding and discussing several resources, what knowledge issues can be identified?

Teaching resource directories

Links to websites offering collections of teaching resources, including educational material on stem cells.

2Ways Communicating Life Science Research- Stem cells

Rethink Stem Cells for Future Therapies, part of 2Ways, a FP-7 project Stem cell research and possible future therapies bring hope to many people, but cause doubt and fear too, as it involves the use of cells from embryos. This project includes a short film about Huntington’s Disease as a platform for discussions and presentations. The lesson includes a suggested experiment to simulate drug screening on cell cultures, a short video about Huntington's disease and PGD (pre-implantation genetic diagnosis), and a slide to describe embryonic stem cell procurement.

Very Special Cells

Stem cells have a lot of potential for medicine. Scientists are trying to understand how to persuade specialised cells to become stem cells again and genes like Ezh2 may hold the key to doing this.  This Virtual Lab experiment investigates the role of the gene Ezh2 in stem cell biology. Students look at microscopic images - comparing normal mouse stem cells with Ezh2 knockout cells. Teacher handbook, notated presentation and lesson plans included.


Regenerative Medicine in the Heart and Cardiac Tissue

Our heart has a very important biological function within our body. The heart is responsible for pumping blood throughout our bodies, which allows other organs to function properly.  Learn about the heart:

Cancer stem cells- hope for the future?

This article puts forward the current theory that there are cancer stem cells in much the same way as there are other stem cells. The article could make a good basis for a general discussion of the topic of cancer, including cancer research and treatments, diagnosis and survival rates. Why are some cancers more treatable than others?

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