Biology

Introduction

Fewer than 30 years ago, scientists and doctors believed that paralysis caused by damage to the spinal cord was permanent. They thought that the neurons in the spine could not be regenerated. But in the early 1980s, researchers found evidence to the contrary. Today, major progress in the treatment of paralysis is being made with the use of stem cells. In this WebQuest, you will research the use of stem cells in the treatment of spinal cord injuries. Then, you will make a timeline showing how scientists’ knowledge of the possibilities of stem cell usage has steadily grown over the years.

Task

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) wants to make a timeline to explain to high- school students the progress that scientists are making in the use of stem cells to treat spinal cord injuries. Your task is to research the history of the use of stem cells in the treatment of spinal cord injuries and to make an illustrated timeline showing important dates and discoveries.

Process

Use the resources listed in the Resources section to begin your research. The Web sites listed are good starting points, but further Internet research will be necessary. Record your answers to the following questions. You will use them to create a timeline at the end of the project.

What are stem cells?

Why did scientists and doctors think spinal cord injuries were permanent, and what changed their minds?

How have stem cells been used to treat spinal cord injuries?

How do scientists and researchers think stem cells will be used to treat spinal cord injuries in the future?

Timeline

Once you have completed your research, create a timeline that shows major advances in the use of stem cells to treat spinal cord injuries. You might draw your timeline on a poster, or you might choose to use computer software. Include photographs and other graphics to illustrate stem cells advances and discoveries. Make sure to include a separate document that lists the sources of your information.

 

Resources

Christopher and Diana Reeve Foundation (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site. MedlinePlus (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.

National Institutes of Health (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.

University of Wisconsin Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine Center (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.

 

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