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Submissions in the current issue of Whitworth Today's "Your Letters" section mentioned the "AfterWord" feature in our spring issue, written by Kyle Orwig, ‘90,  Ph.D.  Orwig to responds to Alums' questions below.

Kyle Orwig's Response

Mr. Grant:
Cord-blood stem cells fall into the broad category of adult-tissue stem cells (if the origin of cells is not embryonic or fetal, it is considered adult). In general, adult-tissue stem cells are more restricted in their developmental potential than embryonic stem cells, which are pluripotent and can produce all cell and tissue types in the body. Cord blood contains hematopoietic stem cells, which can be used to treat hematopoietic diseases (i.e., of the blood and immune system).

There are reports that mesenchymal stem cells (multipotent, but not pluripotent) can be derived from cord blood, but this work is very experimental at this point. Embryonic stem-cell research is, and should be, one of the most heavily scrutinized fields in the history of biomedical science. Responsible conduct of ES cell research should appreciate the ethical challenges and continually evaluate alternative methods. However, at this time no equivalent alternative is available.

Kyle Orwig

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