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The University of Manchester

"Stem Cells: The Essential Concepts" All the elementary basics you need to understand stem cells technology I0-WEEK PRE-SESSIONAL COURSE

University Language Center The University of Manchester

11. Bibliography.

1. Introduction. 2. General Overview. 2.1 Adult Stem Cells 2.2 Embryonic Stem Cells 2.3 Sources of Embryonic Stem Cells 2.3.1 2.3.2 In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) Nuclear Transfer (NT)

1 2 3 3

6 6

3. Stem Cells Industry. 3.1 Stem Cells: Behind The Scenes 3.2 Identifying Stem Cells 3.3 Stem Cells in Culture 4. Stem Cells in the Real World: Successful Story.

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Stem Cells: The Emergence of Ethical Concerns.

6. Conclusion.

Key The essay below will use the following colours to indicate areas that will be used in the assessment of the PS5 projects.

Appropriacy of Format and Content

Coherence and Structure



Accuracy and Range of Language

1. Introduction

Stem cells are special cells that have the ability to divide and give rise to a wide variety of more specialized cells. This ability which is called developmental plasticity or Potency is a well-known characteristic of fertilized eggs which are referred to totipotent by scientists, whereas blastocysts, which are pre-implantation embryos observed in an early stage of fetus development, are shown to have less plasticity, and accordingly they are said to be pluripotent. As development progresses, individual cells become multi potent (able to give rise to only a few cell types) before they reach their final form as specialized cells that only have the ability to give rise to other cells of their same kinds.
These are scientific terms and although they are explained they should be referenced from a medical dictionary. These terms are not common

Stem cells may be obtained from both embryonic and adult tissues in order to be cultured in the laboratories to produce a wide variety of cell types depending on the path the scientist has triggered. Stem cells may be able to treat different kinds of diseases range from genetically inherited diseases, through cardiovascular disorders, to more complicated medical conditions often related to central nervous system and currently have no hope of a cure such as Parkinson's disease, and Alzheimer's disease.
Too informal; this affects the register

This project is intended to briefly provide non- specialized readers with the essential concepts needed to better understand stem cells technology. It covers the accurate definition of stem cells, the various types of stem cells and their sources, what is going on in the biological research laboratories, and it also sheds light on the controversial ethics surrounding stem cells research.

2. General Overview

What authority is there for these statements? This page needs referencing: According to.. (1998),

Stem cells are primitive, undifferentiated cells that have remarkable potential to differentiate into more specialized cell types during both early life and growth. Moreover, they can serve as an internal repair system. When a stem cell divides, each new cell has the capacity to either remain a stem cell or become different kind of cell which is more specialized, such as muscle cell, or red blood cell. Besides, they also have the capacity to self-renew (make more cells like themselves, more stem cells).
According to which dictionary and which author?

In fact, a stem cell has two key elements involved in its definition. Firstly, it is selfrenewing, which means, when it divides, one of its daughter cells can give rise to itself, while secondly the new generated daughter cell can give rise to a more mature or differentiated cell.

Stem cells are classified according to the source from where they could be extracted into two main categories:

1. Adult tissues (so called adult stem cells). 2. Embryos formed during the blastocyst phase of fetus development (so called embryonic stem cells).

Both types are generally characterized by their potency (the potential to differentiate into different cell types such as skin, muscle, bone, etc.).

2.1 Adult Stem Cells

Adult stem cells are latent within several organs, and they are surrounded by millions of ordinary (mature and differentiated) cells, and may help replenish some of the body's cells when needed. They have been found in several organs that need a constant supply of cells, such as the blood, skin, and lining of the gut, and have also been found in surprising places like the brain where it was previously thought that damaged cells could not be repaired. Unlike embryonic stem cells, adult stem cells are
Figuloe 1:

This seems like an extended definition for which there is no source. The reader may argue that it sounds plagiarised due to the scientific nature of the language. The intended reader is the presessional tutor therefore not specialist. The language should therefore measured to a nonspecialist reader.


Sources of Adult
Stem Cells

already somehow specialized. For example, blood stem cells normally only yield to the several types of blood cells, and nerve stem cells can only make the various types of brain cells. Thus these cells are said to be multi potent. Recently, scientists have started to believe that some adult stem cells might be more adaptable than previously thought, and may be made to produce a greater variety of cell types. However, scientists are working on finding a way to instigate adult stem cells, or even other types of adult cells, to be more flexible (capable of dividing). If they succeed, it might provide another source of unspecialized stem cells.
According to which source: if its recent; is the information from an article or journal? If it is from the writers own knowledge, it is not enough to just to comment on this it needs to be referenced.

2.2 Embryonic Stem Cells

A blastocyst is a mammalian embryo at the stage when it is implanted in the wall of the uterus. It develops throughout the first week of successful fertilization of an Oocyte (immature female reproductive cell) by a sperm. It contains all the material

and substances vital for the development of a complete human being. A blastocyst is a mostly hollow ball of cells. In its interior is the inner cell mass (IeM), which is composed of around 100 cells that are referred to pluripotent by scientists because they can differentiate into almost all of the cell types of the body.

'" ..

Oocyte Zygote 4 cell


More scientific description seemingly from the personal knowledge of the student; it lacks, however, academic rigour as it has no references. For all we know it could be from Wikipedia.

Figure 2: Early stages of fetal development.

In normal development, the blastocyst would implant in the wall of the womb to become the embryo and continue developing into a mature fetus. Its outer cells would begin to form the placenta while the inner cell mass would begin to differentiate into the progressively more specialized cell types of the body (lead to. all body organs). When the blastocyst is utilized in stem cell research, scientists take away the inner cell mass and place these cells in a culture plate with a nutritious liquid where they further produce embryonic stem cells.

8 cell Morula Blastocyst

Embryonic stem cells seem to be more adaptable than stem cells found in adults. Apart from their potential to produce every cell type in the human body, embryonic stem cells are also generally easier to isolate, purify and preserve (able to survive) in the laboratory than adult stem cells. Scientists can persuade embryonic stem cells to replicate themselves in an "undifferentiated" state for very long periods of time before stimulating them to create specialized cells. However, such undifferentiated stem cells could not be used directly for tissue transplants because they can inevitably cause a type of turnor called a teratoma (an encapsulated tumor with tissue or organ components), because they will divide uncontrollably. Panno (2005) stresses that in order

~ Blastocyst

Inner cell mass

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CulturIng of stem cells Undifferentiated embryonic stem cells


Figure 3: Differentiation into specialized cell t)lles.

to be used in therapies, embryonic stem cells would first need to be differentiated into specialized cell types.

Now there is a reference. The reader, who is not specialist may wonder why this has been reference while so little else has been. He/ she may doubt the credibility of the reference or question its use.

2.3 Sources of Embryonic Stem Cells 2.3.1 In Vitro Fertilization:

Appropriate content. Is this analytical enough? The statement has no academic basis. Considered by whom? What evidence is there of this opinion?

In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) technique is considered as the most common source of blastocysts for stem cell research. The process of IVF requires the retrieval of a woman's eggs via an invasive surgical procedure after undergoing an intensive series of hormonal injections which stimulate her ovaries to produce multiple eggs. This has caused an ethical controversy to arise because the process itself is not without risk as long-term health effects may develop, and therefore women may become victims of researchers' commercial incentive and their health might be compromised (Harmon, 2009).
Controversy among whom? A statement that needs endorsement i.e. controversy among medical professionals..

When IVF technique is exploited for reproductive purposes, doctors usually fertilize all the donated eggs in order to maximize their chance of producing a viable blastocyst that can be implanted in the uterus afterwards. Because not all the fertilized eggs are implanted, this leaves an excessive amount of blastocysts that could be utilized in stem cells research. However, because most of these blastocysts were created before the arrival of stem cell research, most donors were not asked for their consent to use these unused
Accuracy: a tense issue here. blastocysts for research purposes.

It is emerged that the IVF technique could also be used to create blastocysts specifically for research purposes. This would facilitate the extraction of stem cells with specific genetic features necessary for the study of particular diseases. For example, it may be possible to study the origins of an inherited disease using stem cells made from egg and sperm donors who are suffering from this disease. The formation of stem cells specifically for research using IVF technique is, however, ethically awkward for some people since it involves intentionally creating a blastocyst that will never grow into a human being.

Appropriacy of content: not specific enough. Who are these people? Good academic practice to be clear and specific: the statement will carry more authority.

2.3.2 Nuclear Transfer:

Nuclear Transfer, which is a form of cloning, offers another sensible source for producing embryonic stem cells. In animals, nuclear transfer has been accomplished by inserting the nucleus of an already differentiated adult cell (skin for example) into a donated Oocyte (egg) that has had its nucleus removed. This egg, which now contains the genetic material of the skin cell, is then stimulated to form a blastocyst from which embryonic stem cells can be obtained. The stem cells that are produced in this way are therefore copies or "clones" of the original adult cell because their nuclear DNA matches that of the adult cell.

Range: possibly the wrong synonym; also appropriacy and referencing; who deems this sensible.

Eg g Nucleus (genetic material) Skin cell genetic material

Enucleated egg Genetic material removed from egg



Inner cell mass removed for stem cell culture


Figure 4: Nuclear Transfer

Scientists believe that if they are able to use nuclear transfer to derive (produce) human stem cells, it could allow them to study the development and advancement of specific diseases by creating stem cells containing the genes responsible for certain disorders (National Academies official website, viewed on 15/0812010).

All scientists, some? In which field? And when did they start to believe this?

Despite the fact that using nuclear transfer technique to produce stem cells is not as identical as reproductive cloning, some bioethicists are concerned about the potential misapplication of the technique for reproductive cloning purposes. Other moral considerations include egg donation, which requires informed consent, and the deliberate destruction of blastocysts (Bellamy, 2010).

3. Stem cells industry

3.1 Stem Cells: Behind the scenes

Range: the wrong synonym here. An error made through the process of paraphrasing.

Stem cells research is being vigorously conducted all over the world in the hope of achieving new medical breakthroughs. Scientists endeavour to develop novel therapies that rebuild damaged cells within tissues grown from stem cells and offer hope to people suffering from devastating conditions (Cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, spinal cord injuries, and many other disorders). Moreover, both adult and embryonic stem cells may also provide a route for scientists to develop invaluable new methods for new drugs testing.
According to whom? Do we have a reference for this opinion? At the end of the paragraph, yes, but there needs to be earlier referencing in paragraphs to establish which ideas are the writers own and which are the authors she is borrowing from. This sounds borrowed. Could it be put in ..?

3.2 Identifying Stem Cells

Identifying stem cells has been one of the major challenges encountered throughout the history of stem cells research, and the related techniques have only recently been

developed. This is because adult stem cells are, by their nature, inconspicuous in shape, size, and function. They also tend to hide deep within tissues and are present only in very low numbers, making their identification more difficult. Therefore, it is almost impossible to identify adult stem cells by simple visual inspection. However, embryonic stem cells are much easier to identify because of their definite source. (National Academies Official Website, viewed on 15/08/2010)

In this regard, scientists have developed a set of markers which help to simply identify the stem cells. There are many different markers, but all of them fall into one of these groups: 1- Glycoprotein receptors. 2- Cell specific gene expression.

3- Cell specific molecules (such as hormones, enzymes, or structural proteins). (Panno, 2005). 3.3 Stem Cells in Culture
Where is this definition taken from? Is it from a medical dictionary, if so, reference?

Cell culture is a term that refers to the progression and preservation of cells in a restrained environment outside of a living organism. A successful stem cell culture is one that keeps the cell vigorous, dividing, and unspecialized.

When cultured, both embryonic and adult stem cells are able to proliferate and differentiate into several types of cells, and this differentiation occurs either spontaneously or in a directed (promoted) way. However, scientists strive to stop this natural behavior by growing the cells on a layer of feeder cells that secrete substances, of unknown identity, into the culture media that help nourish the embryonic stem cells. The feeder cells in most of in vitro experiments (a Latin term describes biological phenomena that are made to occur outside the living body, for example in a test tube) are mouse embryonic fibroblasts (large flat cells found in connective tissues that secrets collagen and elastic fibers) that have been already exposed to Gamma Radiation which further deter the ability of fibroblasts to replicate.

Panno (2005) explains that feeder cells are being added for two main reasons. Firstly, they help maintain the stem cells in an undifferentiated state. But more importantly, they provide a favourable substrate for the stem cells to grow on.
The write finally starts crediting authors and the reader can start to accept an academic line of reasoning.

When the stem cells are needed to be directly differentiated in order to be used in therapy afterwards, they are transferred to fresh culture plates that lack a feeder cell layer, and then a culture media containing one or more growth factor will be added.

If scientists succeeded in solving the enigma of this differentiation, they would be able to generate a catalogue of culture additives that will lead to the production of specific cell types from cultured embryonic and adult stem cells. Moreover, it may also help them understand the molecular nature of plasticity and the factors that distinguish between embryonic and adult stem cells, and eventually scientists may become able to develop effective therapies based solely on the use of adult stem cells. Table 1: Directed differentiation of mouse stem cells. *

Source Adult bone marrow

Growth Factor Interleukin-3 Interleukin-6

Resulting cell types Platelets Red blood cells White blood cells

Adult bone marrow Adult bone marrow Embryo

Epithelial growth factor Neurotrophic growth factor Retinoic acid Insulin

Astrocyte Neurons Adipocyte


Retinoic acid Oligodendrocyte

Astrocyte Neurons

*Source: Panno, J, 2005. Stem cells research: Medical applications and ethical controversy, with amendments.

4. Stem cells in the real world: Successful story

On the 22nd of December 2009, a recent successful stem cells treatment for blindness hit the news. Russel Turnbull, who had been suffering for 15 years from blindness in one of his eyes as a result of a chemical attack, received his sight back at Newcastle's Royal Victoria Infirmary (RVI) after undergoing a novel treatment, developed at the North East England Stem Cell Institute (NESCI), involved taking a small amount of stem cells from his healthy eye, and then these cells were cultivated in vitro in order to be implanted into his damaged cornea afterwards. (BBC official web site, viewed on 18/08/2010).

Range: too informal; a change in register seems unusual and out of place.

5. Stem cells: The emergence of ethical concerns

Since different ethical issues have been raised by the wide range of stem cells activities, it becomes essential for not only specialists, but also clerics (religious leaders) and the whole community to take theses moral implications into consideration. This controversy has arisen from the fact that the developing of human embryonic stem cell lines requires the destruction of a human embryo. Because not all stem cells research involves the creating and then destroying human embryos, the ethical debate only focuses on embryonic stem cells research.

Due to the unscientific nature of the language in these two paragraphs, it sounds like the authors own language and range of vocabulary. Due to the lack of referencing in previous sections the style of these two paragraphs may make the reader think that previous sections have relied too heavily on the source text language i.e. plagiarism.

The controversy over embryonic stem cell research deals with some of the same fundamental questions that community has been struggling with in the debates over contraception, abortion, and in vitro fertilization. The questions at the heart of the controversy concern the nature of early human life and the moral and the religious status of the human embryo ... "When exactly does an embryo become human?!!"

Embryonic stem cell research often involves removing the inner cell mass from excess blastocysts that are unneeded by couples who have just completed their fertility treatment. Although such blastocysts are highly likely to be discarded (and thus destroyed) by the clinics in any case, some believe that this does not make it morally acceptable to use them for research purposes. They believe that the life of a human being begins at the moment of conception and that society demoralizes the commitment to the protection of "basic rights" of individuals if blastocysts are used for such purpose (Bellamy, 2009).

Some cultures and religious traditions oppose the use of human life as a means to satisfy scientific curiosity, no matter how impressive the outcome might be, while others support embryonic stem cell research because they believe that the embryo gains the moral status of a human being only after a few weeks or months of development, and thus emphasize the importance of healing the sick and easing suffering, and hence favor embryonic stem cell research for this reason. Several religious groups are currently involved in internal discussions about the status of the human embryo and have not yet established official agreements on the matter.

Does this section really fit in with the mainly descriptive nature of the text; introducing a social and cultural perspective to something which is mainly scientific? If it is valid, could this have been included at a different point in the project: the introduction?

6. Conclusion

In conclusion, stem cells, which are undifferentiated cells and have the capacity to differentiate into more specialized cells, can be extracted from both embryonic and adult tissues. However, embryonic stem cells are known to have, in general, much more potential to differentiate than adult stem cells. Indeed, they are easier not only to be isolated but also to be maintained in the laboratories.
Introducing detail in the conclusion?

It is often claimed that embryonic stem cells offer the best hope and promise for finding cures. Nevertheless, there are two stumbling blocks related to embryonic stem cells research that no one seems able to solve. Firstly, not even one successful treatment or cure has resulted from embryonic stem cells research, and secondly, embryonic stem cells are unstable and tend to form uncontrollable tumors when transplanted into the body. Moreover, embryonic stem cells research is often regarded as a kind of technology that always involves doing violence to "young humans".
Innacurate use of verb form: do.

Although it is much more difficult to provide adult stem cells therapy, it has been able to cure people suffering from devastating condition. It always offers real hope for the future. Accordingly, I personally believe that adult stem cells research always merits the utmost interest and support.
Accuracy: it offers.

~anno, J. (2005) Stem cell research: Medical applications and ethical cdntroversy. New York: Fact on Files, Inc.

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Harmon, K. (2009) For sale: Human eggs become a research commodity. Scientific American Magazine. November 2009 issue. Understanding stem cells: An overview of the science and issues from the National Academies. (viewed 15/08/2010) Bellamy, S (2010). Law, Ethics, Religion, and Clinical Translation in the 21st Century - A discussion with Rev.Dr. Stephen Bel/amy. Journal of Stem Cells Volume 28, issue 2, Feb. 2010. AlphaMed Press. . BBC Official Website. ! (viewed 18/08/2010).
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