Monday, September 12, 2011

Stem Cell Zoo

Immediate Past Division B Governor, Irene Lee hosted the Division B Appreciation High Tea 2010-2011 at the Tropicana Golf & Country Resort yesterday. I was invited because I was in the excos of two Division B clubs, i.e. Taman Indrahana Toastmasters Club and D’Utama Advanced Toastmasters Club. Kay Wong and Nancy Liew, the respective immediate past presidents were also present. Anyway, the venue was befitting, the food was prodigious, and the proceeding was ‘light and easy’. The only thing that marred the perfect Sunday afternoon was when one particular person got very long-winded in her ‘sharing’. I suppose being a Toastmaster, she cannot help being garrulous. I left after thirteen minutes of prattle – that was all I could take. Anyhow, Irene, thank you!

Sometimes I am awesomely brilliant, methinks. Last Thursday, in my “Speaking under Fire” speech that I delivered at D’Utama Advanced Toastmasters meeting, I was talking about “stem cell research” – specifically referring to the orang utans. I didn’t know how spot-on I was until today when I came across this article on Global Animal Network titled “’Stem Cell Zoo’ To Save Endangered Species”. We know that stem cells are quickly becoming an important tool for human medical treatments, and in this piece, researchers are betting they will also be a useful tool for zoo animals.

This “zoo” houses the stem cells of only two animalsthe critically endangered drill primate and white rhinoso far, but will hopefully expand to include those of all endangered animals. Both animals, the researchers said, were chosen because they could benefit from stem cells now. For instance, the drill primate suffers from diabetes when in captivity, and stem cell-based treatments for diabetes being researched in humans suggest the same may work in these primates.

The rhinoceros was chosen because it is one of the most highly endangered species on the planet, with only seven animals, all in captivity, in existence. They haven’t reproduced in as many years, and because the population is so small there is a lack of genetic diversity, which could affect their survival. Stem cell technology provides some level of hope that they won’t have to become extinct even though they’ve been completely eliminated from their habitats.

According to this engrossing write-up (webpage, stem cells are prized, because they can be turned into any type of cell in the body, a characteristic called pluripotency. The cells can even be turned into sperm or egg cells, and used in assisted reproduction to make more individuals of the species.

What I am trying to say here is that my speeches don’t just entertain, but they can be very informative too! Listeners will always learn something from my speeches! And what's also amazing is that it was very much an impromptu speech because I only came up with the speech just as I arrived at the speaking venue.

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