Question Video: Describing the Uses of Stem Cells | Nagwa Question Video: Describing the Uses of Stem Cells | Nagwa

Question Video: Describing the Uses of Stem Cells Biology • First Year of Secondary School

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Macular degeneration is when the light-sensitive cells in the center of your eye stop working. Which of the following best explains how stem cells could be used to treat someone with macular degeneration? [A] Stem cells can be stimulated to differentiate into light-sensitive cells to replace the damaged ones. [B] Stem cells can be used to create an entire eyeball and replace the eye of someone with this condition. [C] Stem cells can be inserted into the eye to fix the damaged cells. [D] Stem cells can stimulate the immune response to repair the damaged cells. [E] Stem cells cannot be used to treat this condition.

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Video Transcript

Macular degeneration is when the light-sensitive cells in the center of your eye stop working. Which of the following best explains how stem cells could be used to treat someone with macular degeneration? (A) Stem cells can be stimulated to differentiate into light-sensitive cells to replace the damaged ones. (B) Stem cells can be used to create an entire eyeball and replace the eye of someone with this condition. (C) Stem cells can be inserted into the eye to fix the damaged cells. (D) Stem cells can stimulate the immune response to repair the damaged cells. Or (E) stem cells cannot be used to treat this condition.

Let’s remove the multiple-choice options for now and explore how stem cells can be used to treat conditions like macular degeneration. You may recall that organs such as the eye contain tissues made of specialized cells that are adapted for their function. For example, the retina tissue of the eye is made of cells that are specialized by being sensitive to light. We say that specialized cells such as these are differentiated because they’re committed to being specialized for their function. Not all cells are differentiated however. Some cells — which can be found in developing human embryos, in the umbilical cord, in some tissues of the developed human body or that can be artificially made from reprogrammed skin cells — are undifferentiated, and these are known as stem cells.

Because they’re not specialized, stem cells are capable of differentiating into a range of different cell types. This is how all our tissues and organs are formed during development and how they repair themselves if they become damaged during adult life. Stem cells are also very useful to us because they can be used in medicine and research. This question is about macular degeneration, which is one of the conditions that could be treated using stem cells. The macula is the region of the retina shown in orange on this diagram. A macular degeneration is when the light-sensitive cells that make up this region gradually stop working over time, leading to sight loss, particularly in the center of the sufferer’s field of vision.

Fortunately, stem cells show great potential for treating macular degeneration. Scientists could modify stem cells with specific proteins called transcription factors, which would stimulate them to differentiate into light-sensitive cells. These healthy cells could then be inserted into the macula to replace the damaged ones.

Now we can return to the multiple-choice options and answer this question. The statement that best explains how stem cells could be used to treat someone with macular degeneration is (A). Stem cells can be stimulated to differentiate into light-sensitive cells to replace the damaged ones.

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