Ovarian tissue transplant results in embryo

This achievement, reported in the current issue of The Lancet, strikes me as a potentially monumental medical advance. In a procedure led by Cornell University reproductive endocrinologist Kutluk Oktay, frozen ovarian tissue removed from a 30-year old woman before she underwent cancer chemotherapy and then retransplanted back into her abdomen six years later resulted in reversal of her chemo-induced premature menopause and restored fertility. The transplanted ovarian tissue produced ova which when fertilized in vitro with her husband’s sperm developed into a normal embryo. Unfortunately, it did not proceed to a pregnancy when reimplanted into her womb, but the team is confident that it is only a matter of time before a successful pregnancy and a live birth result from this procedure. —CNN.

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In fact, in a related development, this has been achieved in a study with a rhesus monkey in Oregon. —BBC

It seems prudent for women in line to undergo procedures such as cancer chemotherapy which could make them infertile to begin banking ovarian tissue for freezing and eventual reimplantation. Until now, women have been able only to have eggs harvested and fertilized in vitro and the frozen embryos that result banked for potential future use. [Correct me if I am wrong, but I do not think frozen unfertilized ova can be thawed to be fertilized years later.] The obvious shortcoming of the existing procedure is that the woman cannot have a child with any other potential future partner. It goes without saying that this can open up other Pandora’s boxes — for example, how about healthy women storing ovarian tissue so that they might conceive late in life, overcoming their menopause. Ethical concerns have arisen about the several extraordinary cases of women who have already had interventions to allow a pregnancy late in their lives; this could conceivably become much more common.

Even apart from fertility issues, it strikes me that the potential to reverse premature menopause with one’s own functioning ovarian tissue, without hormone replacement therapy, is enormous on its own accord.

Death at the Masonic Lodge

The idiocy of an induction ritual that was designed to “frighten (the inductee) by letting him think he was placing his life in their hands” is graphically illustrated as his initiator pulls out a loaded pistol instead of the one in his other pocket that fires blanks; the inductee is shot in the head and killed. Everyone calls this “an accident”, but bringing a loaded weapon to the ceremony suggets to me a depraved indifference to the life of the victim. The immature folly of the initiation ritual mentality that ranges from college fraternities to these Masonic Lodges to the secret societies of the elite ruling class enrages me.

Hijacker Abu Abbas dies in Iraq

“Abu Abbas, the Palestinian mastermind of the Achille Lauro cruise ship hijacking in 1985, has died of natural causes in U.S. custody in Iraq, a top Palestinian official has told Reuters.

‘We have been informed that Mohammed Abbas or Abu Abbas, head of the Palestine Liberation Front, who has been held in American custody, has died in Iraq,’ he said, adding that the death was ‘related to his deteriorating health situation’.

The U.S. military in Baghdad said it had no information.” — Reuters Should we be more curious about the ‘natural causes’, the ‘deteriorating health situation’, and the lack of further information available from his US captors?

Anti-whalers say cruelty of killing requires ban

“All whaling – whether for commercial or scientific purposes – should be stopped on the grounds of cruelty, demands a major new scientific report.

The report, published by a global coalition of animal welfare societies, contains ‘hard scientific dispassionate evidence that there is no humane way to kill a whale at sea‘, according to a foreword by naturalist and broadcaster David Attenborough.” — New Scientist

Filming the Hand That’s Stealing His Wallet

“If you want my title, it’s professor of pickpocketry. My wife, Bambi Vincent, and I spend seven months each year traveling the world to film pickpockets and other street thieves who prey on unsuspecting tourists. As a security consultant to business travelers, law enforcement and corporations, I live to expose the latest tricks of scoundrels.

After we observe a thief in action, we usually try to lure him into conversation and pick his brain the way he picks the pockets of his victims. Most thieves love to brag, though on other occasions we’ve had rocks thrown at us and knives pulled on us, and we’ve been hit and spat upon.

I keep my money tucked inside my trousers, in a thin leather pouch that hangs from my belt. I also have a wallet stuffed only with newspaper, which I use as bait. It has been stolen from my hip pocket more than 100 times. Sometimes I confront the thieves and it magically appears on the ground. But other times I steal it back; that’s the quickest way to establish rapport with pickpockets.” — New York Times

The risks of waging ‘culture war’

“Politicians who spark a culture war for the sake of their own power are playing with fire, and journalists who exploit a culture war for the sake of its unleashed furies are throwing gasoline on the flames. At the beginning of the presidential election contest, that is history’s warning to America…

The phrase “culture war” comes from “Kulturkampf.” That word was coined in the 1870s when Germany’s George W. Bush, Otto von Bismarck, launched a “values” campaign as a way of shoring up his political power. Distracting from issues of war and economic stress, the “Kulturkampf” ran from 1871 to about 1887. Bismarck’s strategy was to unite his base by inciting hatred of those who were not part of it…” —James Carroll, Boston Globe op-ed

Making flippy floppy:

Phase one of the Bush campaign strategy seems to be to attack Kerry on”flip-flopping”. Bush’s recent public statements suggest he has a one-track mind on the topic. His critics counter with two genres of response. Some point to the President’s own flip-flopping, for example most recently changing his position on how much time he will give the panel investigating 9-11. Others suggest that the flexibility to change one’s position in response to changing circumstances and the courage and candor to admit that one’s prior position was mistaken upon further reflection are desireable attributes in a national leader. Bush’s fault, this argument goes, is often that he is too rigid and changes his mind too little. That both diametrically opposite responses are valid indicates the meaninglessness of the entire ‘flip-floppiness’ concept as a measure of a candidate’s fitness. (Who was it who said that the most profound truths are those whose opposites are also true?) This early in the campaign season, the conventional wisdom goes that no one is yet listening (although that may be proven wrong in the 2004 race; polls are already indicating an extraordinarily high proportion of voters who have made up their minds). so this may be a throwaway issue for the Bush campaign. I’m convinced that the Republican big gun will be to tar Kerry with the ‘ultraliberal’ brush. Expecially because Bush is such an inflexible, one-track thinker, I expect a phased rollout of campaign issues so he can focus on one at a time. So we will start to hear the ‘L-word’ later, probably by the end of the summer.

‘Please do not touch the forest, because it gives us life. Please stop the bulldozers.’

Last isolated Indians south of the Amazon make contact: “A group of previously uncontacted Ayoreo Indians has emerged from the forests of Paraguay, under pressure from deforestation all around them. The 17 people (five men, seven women and five children) are in excellent health, but acutely short of water. Colonists who have settled in their territory have taken possession of the permanent water holes for cattle ranching, leaving the Indians unable to get water in the dry season.

The Indians made contact with fellow Ayoreo who were planning to establish a new community in the last sizeable area of forest in the region. For ten years the Ayoreo and their supporters have been trying to protect the zone from accelerating invasion. Now, ranchers and farmers occupy large parts of the Ayoreo’s forest.

Under national and international law, the Paraguayan government should have titled the area (some 550,000 hectares) to the Indians. But after ten years, only around a quarter has been titled. Some landowners continue to send in bulldozers to clear the forest, defying court orders which were supposed to halt all work in the area.” —Survival International press release