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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 2001).

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 not.

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 Assisted Reproduction
Elder, K., Baker, D.J. & Ribes, J.A. (2005). Infections, Infertility, and Assisted Reproduction. Cambridge:
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 Xtra: 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 Steptoe.

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.

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