Archive by category | Society for the Study of Reproduction

Glucosamine reactions

Reproductive toxicology accounts for a decent percentage of the research represented at the Society for the Study of Reproduction meeting wrapping up today in Kona, HI. Most of this has been directed at estrogen mimetics and assorted endocrine disrupters like Bisphenol A, the chemical in polycarbonate plastic that’s has many ditching their Nalgene water bottles. Many of these are ubiquitous chemicals that we come in contact with, but don’t intentionally ingest. So, I was a bit surprised to see a poster on glucosamine, a dietary supplement that many take for joint health. I met Jeremy Thompson today who with his group in the University of Adelaide, has been amassing evidence putting him on the wrong side of the supplement industry in Australia.  Read more

We are not alone: our commensal lives start early

Just as recent metagenomic studies have demonstrated vast information about the bacteria that teem in and around us, there is a deep, mysterious well of ancient infections within our genomes Alexei Evsikov from Jackson Labs spoke this morning about the activity of so-called LTR retrotranposons during early embryonic development in mice. LTR retrotransposons are essentially viral remnants that have camped out at various places in the genome sometimes landing in areas that break up genes and sometimes brining promoter regions in close proximity to genes that would have otherwise gone unexpressed. Evsikov presented studies suggesting that these transposons become actively expressed and may even be working to intercalate themselves into new areas of the genome during the crucial developmental period when genes from sperm and egg meet to form a new genome of a new living creature.  Read more

Not until you hold it in your hands

Not until you hold it in your hands

Some things make reproductive biology really come alive. Take today: someone handed me a horse vagina while I was walking through this morning’s poster session at the Society for the Study of Reproduction meeting in Kona HI. To be precise, it was the vagina, cervix, uterus, ovaries, and part of the bladder of a mare from a Spanish slaughterhouse. Rafael Latorre was presenting a project underway for at least sixteen years at the University of Murcia, Spain to build anatomy education resources using plastination. You might recognize the process as that popularized by Body World exhibits. Developed by Gunter von Hagens, it involves dehydrating tissue samples and replacing the fluids with various polymers to retain a lifelike look and preserve it for years to come.  Read more

Interspecies cloning at SSR

Akiko Yabuuchi from George Daley’s lab at Children’s Hospital of Boston reported on using somatic cell nuclear transfer to reprogram human nuclei (Daley’s in fact) in bovine egg cells at the Society for the Study of Reproduction meeting in Kona, today. Interspecies nuclear transfer is highly controversial, so it wasn’t exactly surprising that one of Yabuuchi’s first slides mentioned that the project has approval from the Institutional Review Boards and Embryonic Stem Cell Research Oversight committees at Brigham and Women’s and Children’s Hospital where the work was carried out. The efficiency wasn’t very high, but the hybrid embryos were able to undergo cleavage and correct segregation of the human chromosomes.  Read more

Fat and Ferrets

The Society for the Study of Reproduction meeting in Kona, HI sports an eclectic mix of talks and posters — so eclectic, in fact, that I’ve regularly found myself asking just what many of the talks have to do with reproduction. The keynote address for example by Evan Simpson of Prince Henry’s Institute of Medical Research, Monash Medical Center in Australia covered his lab’s amazing work linking metabolic dysregulation, obesity, aging, and cancer. Nope, no reproduction there, except for the role of circulating androgens. Simpson laid out a career devoted to aromatase and the ways in which changes in estrogen signalling contribute to breast cancer. Fascinating stuff, but even he was a bit stymied by the link to cancer.  Read more

Tropical getaways and sex: SSR 2008

Yesterday afternoon marked the start of the Society for the Study of Reproduction 2008, a 1,000 attendee meeting held this year in Kona, Hawaii. It’s a beautiful place for a meeting on sex, to be sure, but looking at these videos of the 1959 eruption of Kilauea, I became just a little less confident about the status of a vent that recently began spewing toxic sulphur dioxide across much of the island state (and leaving the Konaa bit smoggy-or in the local parlance “voggy”). But volcanoes are all about rebirth of the living rock, a fitting setting for reproduction, and the people on what’s commonly known as the big island have mustered the fortitude to stick around on an active volcano for generations.  Read more