Specialised cells – Cancer cells and stem cells

Cancer cells

Description

Mutated, invasive cells
Malignant/ Benign
Found in places where cells are constantly dividing

  • stomach lining
  • skin
  • bone marrow (RBC)

Specialisation for survival
They are able to be dislodged and carried around the body through the blood/ lymph (plasma)

Can multiply at an uncontrolled rate
–> compete with healthy cells for survival needs
–> kills off healthy cells

∴ This increases their survival rate

Stem cells

Description

Not specialized

Can be changed to any specialised/ differentiated cell in the body under special conditions
Found in:

  • cord blood (in placenta, umbilical cord)
  • various parts of the adult body (e.g. bone marrow, small intestine’s lining)

Function:

  • The beginning of life  –> Stem cells multiply and change into specialised cells to become a foetus
  • Helps in growth
  • Replaces cells that die off in the body

Under certain conditions, these cells can develop into new organs. This can solve the shortage of organs for transplants and save many lives.

However, they can also be used to “make” a baby artificially. Naturally, this leads to controversy.

For more information: http://learn.genetics.utah.edu/content/tech/stemcells/scintro/

Pictures:

Tumour forming
Formation of cancer cells
Stem cells

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