Book Review: Life in the Frozen State
Fuller, B.J., Lane, N. & Benson, E.E. (2004). Life in the
Frozen State. Boca Raton: CRC Press.
What could justify the purchase by a reproductive biologist of
a US $90 book that considers the survival of bacteria in the arctic
tundra? New perspectives! This interdisciplinary book is substantially
broader than Clinical Applications of Cryobiology edited by Fuller,
Grout and Brian in 1991. It presents a thorough review of current
knowledge (through 2002) of cryotechnology in the clinical reproductive
laboratory – including cryopreservation of embryos of both
gametes and of gonadal tissues – and offers deep insight and
clues to ways of advancing current technology.
The editors invited 47 authors to prepare 22 chapters on cryobiology
in its broadest context. Some of the contributors, e.g., Stanley
Liebo and Peter Mazur, are known to most readers; all present refreshingly
unique and credible insights. Overall, the book is thorough, beginning
with basics, including diffusion across cell membranes and formation
of free radicals, then ranging to conventional cryopreservation,
vitrification and lyophilization (freeze-drying). If any topic is
inadequately discussed, it is the formation of ice in physical and
biological systems (which may be found on this Web site: Cryobiology
The book is about research, historical and current. Indeed, a very
fine historical forward was written by Harold T. Meryman, a pioneer
in cryobiology for more than 50 years. The book illustrates scientific
principles through discussion of research results. Rather than being
regaled with recipes and methods, clinical embryologists and andrologists
will expand their knowledge of why techniques work or why they do
A second major benefit of the book is its tendency to provoke the
reader to think creatively. The possibility of fertilizable lyophilized
oocytes is even mentioned. Discussions of preservation of germ resources
in species conservation may inspire embryologists to use their professional
skills in alternative ways to enhance the world.
The book is a good value for scientists and for clinical laboratories
intent on improving the state of the art in reproductive medicine. Book Review: Infections, Infertility, and
Elder, K., Baker, D.J. & Ribes, J.A. (2005). Infections, Infertility,
and Assisted Reproduction.
Cambridge University Press.
It is a pleasure to review a book written, not merely edited, by two
scholars of the University of Kentucky who have written for Xytex
: Doris Baker, Ph.D. and Julie Ribes, M.D., Ph.D. Both of these
American authorities on sexually transmitted infections (STIs) effectively
complement the knowledge and experience of physician Kay Elder, M.D.
of the Bourn Hall Clinic founded by Drs. Robert Edwards and Patrick
Their book is divided into three parts: microbiology, clinical manifestations
of STIs, and STIs in the ART laboratory. The book is written for the
expert in ART (whether clinician or laboratorian), not for the professional
microbiologist. Its intention is to give the reader a working knowledge
of the clinical microbiology of STIs, whether prion, viral, fungal,
bacterial, or parasitological.
The first part of the book describes the microbiology of each organism
and diagnostic methodology. (The book does not pretend to be a compilation
of diagnostic microbiological procedures.) Discussion progresses
from general to specific; a review of organismal biology (whether
viral, bacterial or other topic) is followed by the biology of specific
organisms responsible for STIs. The narrative is supplemented by
recommended references and by tables of nomenclature, diagnostic
procedures, and antimicrobial agents.
Part II on infections in reproductive medicine is organized principally
by primary anatomical site affected by the STI. Each STI is introduced,
sometimes by epidemiological history, and then the life cycle of
the organism, transmission, clinical presentation, diagnostic indications
(clinical and laboratory) and treatment. Availability of vaccines
is also mentioned.
Part III on prevention and control of STIs within the ART laboratory
and between laboratories discusses methods of sterility control,
disinfection, and microbiological testing. Again, fundamental principles
are discussed and references to specific procedures are provided.
The intended reader will find the book clearly written and amply
illustrated with charts, diagrams and photographs. The index is
detailed and well organized. Those who read the book will find it
to be an important reference, especially with the emphasis placed
on STIs by the new American federal regulations on processing reproductive
tissues: 21CFR Part 1271.