Tag Archives: Eggs

Gay flamingos are both family men

Carlos and Fernando, male flamingos at the Slimbridge wildfowl reserve in Gloucestershire, are inseparable.

They have been together for more than five years and have even reared foster chicks.

Twice a year they perform the elaborate courtship dance usual to males and females, before building a nest.

Homosexual activity is not unknown within the animal kingdom but few people know about it, according to zoologists. Keepers at Slimbridge said it was unique among their flamingos.

Nigel Jarrett, the reserve’s aviculture manager, said: “They seem very happy. They will probably stay together for the rest of their lives.

“They are not picked on by the other birds. If anything they are afforded more respect because two males together can be a pretty fearsome prospect for the other flamingos.”

The pair have reared three generations of adopted flamingos, by making off with the freshly laid eggs of their heterosexual neighbors.

Mr Jarrett said: “They have been known to fight the heterosexual birds and steal their eggs. There is usually a ‘handbags-at-10 yards’ moment where they scrap with the couple before stealing the egg.

“They are very good parents though and behave just as the heterosexual birds do when rearing their young.”

The pair are Greater Flamingos, native to the Mediterranean and Africa, and live on algae and small fish.

As well as male flamingos that mate, there are male ostriches that only court their own gender. Film-makers recently caught female Japanese macaque monkeys engaged in intimate acts.

Male penguins have been known to pair up and engage in sexual activity, while ignoring potential female mates.

Adrian Walls, a bird keeper at London Zoo, said: “Homosexual behaviour is often seen amongst birds in captivity, but it is not often long-lived. If they go a long time without chicks, they often search out a different sex partner.”


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The genetic miracle behind the double mixed-race twins

The same genetic process which gave Dean Durrant and Alison Spooner’s first set of twin daughters different skin colours has been at work again. They first defied the odds in 2001 with Lauren, who has her mother’s blue eyes and red hair, and Hayleigh ,who has her father’s darker skin. But in a phenomenon compared to lightning striking in the same place twice, the latest additions to their family, newborn twins Miya and Leah, also have different coloured skin. The combined effects of several different genes working together are thought to determine human skin tone. Unlike identical twins, who are genetically the same, the girls come from two separate eggs which were each fertilised by different sperm. That means that they each have different genetic input from their parents. Just like Hayleigh, Maya’s skin colour has been more influenced by her father’s genes than her mother’s while for Lauren and Leah it is the other way around.

The phenomenon is so rare that there are no statistics to illustrate the probability of it happening, although it is thought likely to become more common because of growing numbers of mixed-race couples. In 2005 Kylie Hodgson and Remi Horder, from Nottingham, had twin girls, one white with blonde hair and the other black.Unlike Dean Durrant and Alison Spooner, both parents were of mixed race with white mothers and black fathers, meaning that the girls’ dramatically different skin colours were the result of a complex combination of genes from their grandparents.picture-7


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Laboratory Grown Eggs

A major breakthrough by British scientists could bring new hope for women facing the heartbreak of infertility. For the first time a team has managed to grow hundreds of eggs in the laboratory using a new technique which could help cancer patients whose treatment can leave them infertile. It would also allow thousands more women to wait until middle age to have children.
The scientists from Edinburgh University have shown that immature eggs can be frozen, grown and matured in the lab. The process could lead to women having pieces of ovary containing the immature eggs removed and stored. Much later on, they could be thawed, fertilised and finally implanted into the womb. Some say it is morally wrong for a woman to do so and have them fertilised years later in order to delay having children while she pursues a career. However, scientists hope the new process will revolutionise fertility preservation for women because it will allow them to store many more eggs than they can under traditional IVF techniques. And, because immature eggs survive the freezing process much better than the mature ones used in IVF, it is much more likely that older women will be able to conceive using them. It brings forward the prospect that thousands of women will use the technique to side-step the menopause, delaying motherhood for the sake of their careers.
The process, which could be available in five years, also provides hope for cancer sufferers who at the moment are often left infertile following chemotherapy and radiotherapy. Powerful anti-cancer drugs can destroy follicles in the ovaries, wiping out any possibility of women having children. At the moment, these women have a piece of ovary removed, frozen and then re-transplanted after their cancer treatment. But there is always the danger that the cancer could be reintroduced by the implant.
The new technique means women’s immature eggs contained in the patch of ovary could be grown in the lab and then screened for cancer before being used in IVF treatment.
There are also hopes it will provide a rich source of eggs for scientists to study for clues on ways to treat a range of diseases.
There is a shortage of human eggs for medical research, and if the technique works it would bypass the controversy over the use of animal-human ‘hybrid’ embryos. The research, carried out by an Edinburgh University team led by Dr Evelyn Telfer,has been published in the journal Human Reproduction. “This is a significant step in developing immature eggs to maturity outside the body,” said Dr Telfer. “Women who face infertility as a result of chemotherapy, or who want to put their biological clock on hold, could benefit from this system. “However, there is a lot more research to be carried out before this technique could be safely applied within a clinical setting.”

Last year, Canadian scientists announced the first birth of a child created from a human egg matured in the laboratory. However, they did not use the same “primordial follicles” studied by the researchers from Edinburgh. These are the tiny egg-bearing pockets within the ovaries that are present in their millions at birth, but gradually die off over the course of a woman’s life. They represent a woman’s fertility “battery” which once depleted cannot be recharged. Many remain dormant, but some go on to mature and eventually release their eggs in preparation for fertilisation. For the first time, the team led by Dr Telfer has succeeded in growing primordial follicles to a late stage of maturation in the lab. They took pieces of ovary containing the follicles from six volunteer women who were giving birth by caesarean section. These were then exposed to a chemical that promotes growth, similar to the one that functions in the ovaries. Around a third of them survived and went on to reach the advanced ‘antral’ stage of development. At this stage, the follicles are filled with fluid and contain eggs almost ready to be fertilised. It means that it could soon be possible to grow hundreds of eggs in the laboratory.

The Canadian team which managed to create a child from immature eggs was working with only around a dozen. Another advantage is that the follicles mature much more quickly in the lab than they do in the ovary. The scientists do not yet know whether eggs – or oocytes, to give them their technical name – matured in this way are completely normal and suitable for in-vitro fertilisation. But animal studies suggest they are. The next step is to use hormones and other substances to try to nudge the ‘antral’ eggs on to the next stage of maturation, and then test the technique on humans. “We believe there’s good evidence that we can get normal oocytes, but of course you would never apply this technique clinically until you are sure,” said Dr Telfer.
“We’re seeking funding for further research to bridge that gap. It might take five to ten years from now before we get to the stage of a clinical trial.” Dr Jane Stewart, consultant in reproductive medicine at the Newcastle Fertility Centre, said:
“This work increases our understanding of the maturation of human eggs in the lab and takes us a step nearer the goal of strong immature eggs for fertility preservation for women.”

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Ayurveda, Eggs, Molars & Joints: The Indian Medical Tourism Story

Medical Tourism is a concept where a patient travels to another country for medical treatment in order to save costs, or get treatment faster or even to avail of better medical facilities. Most patients from countries like USA and UK travel to developing countries such as India for treatment because India offers some of the cheapest pricing options of treatment, offers a good holiday, there are no waiting lists or queues to stand in, the doctors are comparable to anyone in the world and finally, language does not pose a problem as most people speak English. In ancient Greece, pilgrims and patients came from all over the Mediterranean to the sanctuary of the healing god, Asklepios, at Epidaurus. In Roman Britain, patients took the waters at a shrine at Bath, a practice that continued for 2,000 years. From the 18th century wealthy Europeans traveled to spas from Germany to the Nile. In the 21st century, relatively low-cost jet travel has taken the industry beyond the wealthy and desperate.
The Indian medical tourism is a developing concept whereby people from the world over visit India for their medical and relaxation needs. Most common treatments are heart surgery, knee transplant, cosmetic surgery, Donor Egg IVF/Surrogacy and dental care. The reason India is a favorable destination is because of it’s infrastructure and technology in which it is at par with those in USA, UK and Europe. India has some of the best hospitals and treatment centers in the world with the best facilities. Since it is also one of the most favorable tourist destinations in the world, medication combined with tourism has come into effect, from which the concept of Medical Tourism is derived. As health care costs skyrocket, patients in the developed world are looking overseas for medical treatment. India is capitalizing on its low costs and highly trained doctors to appeal to these “medical tourists.” Even with airfare, the cost of going to India for surgery can be markedly cheaper, and the quality of services is often better than that found in the United States and UK. Indeed, many patients are pleased at the prospect of combining their tummy tucks with a trip to the Taj Mahal. Price advantage is, of course, a major selling point. The slogan, thus is, “First World treatment’ at Third World prices”. The cost differential across the board is huge: only a tenth and sometimes even a sixteenth of the cost in the West. Open-heart surgery could cost up to $70,000 in Britain and up to $150,000 in the US; in India’s best hospitals it could cost between $3,000 and $10,000. Knee surgery (on both knees) costs 350,000 rupees ($7,700) in India; in Britain this costs £10,000 ($16,950), more than twice as much. IVF treatments in Western countries cost three to four times as much as in India.
Some estimates say that foreigners account for 10 to 12 per cent of all patients in top Mumbai hospitals despite roadblocks like poor aviation connectivity, poor road infrastructure and absence of uniform quality standards. Analysts say that as many as 150,000 medical tourists came to India last year. The reasons patients travel for treatment vary. Many medical tourists from the United States are seeking treatment at a quarter or sometimes even a 10th of the cost at home. From Canada, it is often people who are frustrated by long waiting times. From Great Britain, the patient can’t wait for treatment by the National Health Service but also can’t afford to see a physician in private practice. For others, becoming a medical tourist is a chance to combine a tropical vacation with elective or plastic surgery. And more patients are coming from poorer countries such as Bangladesh where treatment may not be available. Countries that actively promote medical tourism include Cuba, Costa Rica, Hungary, India, Israel, Jordan, Lithuania, Malaysia and Thailand. Belgium, Poland and Singapore are now entering the field. South Africa specializes in medical safaris-visit the country for a safari, with a stopover for plastic surgery, a nose job and a chance to see lions and elephants.
India is considered the leading country promoting medical tourism-and now it is moving into a new area of “medical outsourcing,” where subcontractors provide services to the overburdened medical care systems in western countries. India’s National Health Policy declares that treatment of foreign patients is legally an “export” and deemed “eligible for all fiscal incentives extended to export earnings.” Government and private sector studies in India estimate that medical tourism could bring between $1 billion and $2 billion US into the country by 2012. The reports estimate that medical tourism to India is growing by 30 per cent a year. And I believe that gynecologists will just watch this opportunity rush past unless we intervene & interact with the government.

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