A special section in the 04 Nov 2004 issue of Nature (Vol. 432, No. 7013) tackles some of the most pressing questions in the field of reproductive biology. Advances over the past few years have hinted that women might soon extend their fertile years and even bear children after the menopause. In a news feature, Kendall Powell investigates whether these new methods are safe - and whether society is ready for such a demographic shift. A second news feature by Declan Butler investigates why birth rates are plummeting across the developed world, and highlights how little data are being collected on this serious phenomenon.
Taking on another long-standing question in reproductive medicine, R. John Aitken and his colleagues examine the threat posed by chemicals - including pesticides, industrial pollutants and pharmaceuticals - to male fertility. "The questions of the kinds of molecular structure that induce such damage, the nature of the damage induced, and the mechanisms by which such damage affects embryonic development all require urgent attention", they say.
Wolf Reik and his colleagues write about the phenomenon of genetic imprinting, in which cells switch on only the mother's or father's copy of some genes, but not both, as a means of regulating nutrient supply during fetal growth. And Jerome Strauss and Michael Kafrissen try to pinpoint obstacles to the development of new contraceptives, at a time when our existing ones are sorely inadequate.
(C) Nature press release.
Message posted by: Trevor M. D'Souza
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