Thursday, December 09, 2010


Same-sex couples may soon be able to have their own genetic children (Image: See-ming Lee ...
Same-sex couples may soon be able to have their own genetic children (Image: See-ming Lee via Flickr)

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In what could be the first step towards same-sex couples having their own genetic children, reproductive scientists have produced male and female mice from two fathers using stem cell technology. The achievement of two-father offspring in a species of mammal could also be a step toward preserving endangered species, improving livestock breeds, and advancing human assisted reproductive technology (ART).

A team of reproductive scientists in Texas, led by Dr. Richard R. Berhringer at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, manipulated fibroblasts - a type of cell that are the most common cells of connective tissue in animals - from a male (XY) mouse fetus to produce an induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cell line. About one percent of iPS cell colonies grown from this XY cell line spontaneously lost the Y chromosome, resulting in XO cells.

These XO iPS cells were injected into blastocysts from donor female mice before being transplanted into surrogate mothers, which gave birth to female XO/XX chimeras having one X chromosome from the original male mouse fibroblast.

The female chimeras, carrying oocytes - which are immature ovum or egg cells - derived from the XO cells, were mated with normal male mice. Some of the offspring were male and female mice that had genetic contributions from two fathers
The technique, which is described in a study posted on Wednesday at the online site of the journal Biology of Reproduction, could be applied to livestock breeding to combine desirable genetic traits from two males without having to outcross to females with diverse traits
The scientists also point out that this "new form of mammalian reproduction" could also be valuable for preserving species when no females remain as it would be possible for one male to produce both oocytes and sperm for self-fertilization to generate male and female progeny.

They add that, in the future, it may also be possible to generate human oocytes from male iPS cell in vitro. Used in conjunction with in vitro fertilization, this would eliminate the need for female XO/XX chimeras, although a surrogate mother would still be needed to carry the two-father pregnancy to term.

Additionally, using a variation of the iPS technique, the researchers say, "it may be possible to generate sperm from a female donor and produce viable male and female progeny with two mothers."
However, the authors caution that the generation of human iPS cells still requires significant refinements prior to their use for therapeutic purposes, so there's still some time to explore the moral and ethical questions such technology will no doubt raise.


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Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Image representing Facebook as depicted in Cru...Image via CrunchBase   Facebook Bullies Charged After being tracked down by their victim...

(Dec. 8 2010) -- When 18-year-old Ally Pfeiffer found a Facebook profile impersonating her and replacing her photograph with a picture of a cow to mock her weight, she cried.

Then, though, the Connecticut teen fought back, found the IP address for the bogus page and helped police trace the cruel behavior back to Sarah Johnson and Jeff Martone, her former classmates at a Bristol, Conn., high school. And now, Johnson and Martone, both freshmen at the University of Connecticut, have been charged with criminal impersonation and second-degree harassment.

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Pfeiffer said she's speaking out about her experience because she hopes it will prevent other young people from going through the pain she did. "If I help one teen or if I make one bully think twice before doing something I would feel 100 percent better," she said in an interview with NBC's "Today" show this morning.
Both Martone, 19, and Johnson, 18, have admitted to creating the fake Facebook profile, which listed Pfeiffer's "likes" as "being fat," "whales," "Ben and Jerry's Ice Cream" and "not running." Pfeiffer said she and Johnson were close friends in high school. "When I first saw the page, I was completely devastated. I didn't know who had done it at this point and was questioning why they chose me, why they'd say those things about me," she told

But Pfeiffer, a freshman at the University of Hartford, said she didn't want to let the cyberbullying ruin her life. "Some of my friends would have hung themselves over this," she told the Bristol Press. "So I'm just glad that [Martone and Johnson] got a stable person trying to take a positive approach to dealing with it rather than someone who could have taken different action."

Cyberbullying has gained increased scrutiny since the death of Rutgers University student Tyler Clementi earlier this year, who killed himself after his classmates allegedly posted a video of him having sex with another man.

Jeremy Weingast, Martone's attorney, said his client is sorry for the pain he caused. "Jeffrey is very remorseful and sorry for the entire incident and apologizes to Ally," he said in a statement.

Johnson and Martone were released on $2,500 bond and are scheduled to face a court hearing Dec. 23. Both charges are misdemeanors.

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