Cancer warning over stem cells

Stem cells could prove a double-edged sword in the treatment of diseases like leukaemia. Donna Forrest of the British Columbia Cancer Agency in Canada and her colleagues found that patients who had received bone-marrow transplants containing haemopoietic stem cells faced a 2.3 per cent risk of developing a secondary cancer, such as skin, lung, or breast cancer, over the course of 10 years - nearly twice the risk of the general population.

Given that bone-marrow transplants are known to increase leukaemia patients' chance of survival, it is possible that the drugs given following the procedure - rather than the transplanted stem cells themselves - were responsible for putting patients at greater risk of developing secondary tumours.

However, Forrest warns, more studies are necessary to find out whether such treatments might influence cancer risk, especially as stem-cell transplants may eventually be developed to treat patients with conditions such as spinal-cord injury and heart failure.

(From issue 2580 of the New Scientist magazine, 02 December 2006)


1. What are stem cells?

2. What clinical uses of stem cells do you know about?

3. What are the advantages of stem cell therapy over the traditional methods of treating human diseases?

4. What potential dangers, risks and side effects can the use of stem cell therapy involve?

VI. Using additional sources of information prepare a report on one of the following topics and present it to the class

Recent investigations into the structure and functions of separate cellular components.

The potential of the stem cell therapy.

Cooperation and differentiation of cells in a multicellular organism.

VII. Solve the crossword puzzle. Work in pairs. Student A make the clues to the given answers for your partner to guess. Student B go to page 178

Student A

1 M I T O 2 C H O N D R I O N              
  3                           4        
5 C A R B O H Y D R A T E           6   7
    8 E U K A 9 R Y O T I C   10            
                        11 A N T I B O D Y
  14 C H R O M O S O M E                  
          15M E I O S I 16 S                
                      17 T U R G O R      
18M I T O S I S                          
              19A N A P H A S E          


Unit 3

Lesson 1



I. Answer the following questions

How many kingdoms of life do you know? Name them.

What criteria are considered for classifying and grouping living organisms?

Have any changes been introduced into taxonomy and systematics with the invention of new methods of observation and investigation?


  1. Cellspacing
  2. Fuel warning light
  3. Miniature human liver developed from stem cells
  4. One-off treatment to stop back pain Using patients' own stem cells
  5. V. Read the following extracts about stem cells. Answer the questions in the Discussion section

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One-off treatment to stop back pain Using patients' own stem cells | II. Listen to the following words and practice their pronunciation

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