Biologists Create a New Type of Human Cells

Professor Vincent Pasque and his colleagues at KU Leuven have used stem cells to create a new kind of human cell in the lab. The new cells closely mirror their natural counterparts in early human embryos. As a result, scientists are better able to understand what occurs just after an embryo implants in the womb. The was recently published in the journal Cell Stem Cell.

A human embryo implants in the womb around seven days after fertilization if everything goes correctly. Due to technological and ethical constraints, the embryo becomes unavailable for study at that point. That is why scientists have already created stem cell models for various kinds of embryonic and extraembryonic cells in order to investigate human development in a dish.

Vincent Pasque’s team at KU Leuven has developed the first model for a specific type of human embryo cells, extraembryonic mesoderm cells. Professor Pasque: “These cells generate the first blood in an embryo, help to attach the embryo to the future placenta, and play a role in forming the primitive umbilical cord. In humans, this type of cell appears at an earlier developmental stage than in mouse embryos, and there might be other important differences between species. That makes our model especially important: research in mice may not give us answers that also apply to humans.”

The model cells were created by the researchers using human stem cells, which can still grow into all cell types in an embryo. The new cells closely resemble their natural counterparts in human embryos and hence serve as an excellent model for that cell type.

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PayPal and Etsy ban evolutionary biologist Dr. Colin Wright

Dr. Colin Wright, an evolutionary biologist, has been banned from PayPal and Etsy. The online financial service and e-commerce platform did not specify why he was banned.

At the end of May, Dr. Wright provided an expert declaration for the Women’s Liberation Front, which is working to protect single-sex prisons.

“The only factual, objective meaning of the words ‘woman’ and ‘man’ are as references to adult human females, and adult human males, respectively,” Wright wrote in the declaration.

“From an objective standpoint, a person’s subjective feelings do not define or change their sex, which is factually and statically either male or female, determined before birth, and defined by objective reproductive anatomy.”

Dr. Wright announced the PayPal ban on Twitter, saying that he used the service to receive both recurring and one-time donations from his supporters.

PayPal wrote to Dr. Wright that, “after a review, we have decided to permanently limit your account as there was a change in your business model or your business model was considered risky.”

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How Can Ketanji Brown Jackson Rule In Sex Discrimination Cases If She Can’t Define ‘Woman’?

Judicial confirmation hearings are rarely illuminating. Since the introduction of television cameras, they mostly serve as a way for senators to say what they want their constituents to hear and for judicial nominees to say as little as possible. Nothing is learned, at least not on purpose.

But occasionally, we learn something by accident. At Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson’s confirmation hearing on Tuesday, Sen. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee asked a seemingly innocuous question: “Can you provide a definition of the word ‘woman’?”

The nominee was unable to do so.

It might seem like a question that goes more to politics than to the job of a judge, but when sex discrimination is frequently before the court — including as recently as last year in Bostock v. Clayton County — it behooves a judge to have some inkling about what “sex” means.

Blackburn’s questioning began with a reference to the 1996 case of United States v. Virginiain which the Supreme Court struck down the Virginia Military Institute’s policy of only admitting men by a 7-1 vote, with Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg writing the opinion of the court. (You can watch the testimony here, beginning at about 13:10:00.) Blackburn quoted from that opinion, specifically to Ginsburg’s point that “[p]hysical differences between men and women, however, are enduring: ‘[T]he two sexes are not fungible; a community made up exclusively of one [sex] is different from a community composed of both.’”

“Do you agree with Justice Ginsburg,” Blackburn asked, “that there are physical differences between men and women that are enduring?”

It sounds like a softball — even young children know that there are physical differences between men and women. Jackson knows it, too. Everyone in that room knows it. But she declined to admit it.

“I am not familiar with that particular quote or case,” she said, which strains credulity. Had she committed that line to memory? Probably not. But to be unfamiliar with a landmark case, the most consequential majority opinion Justice Ginsburg ever authored? United States v. Virginia was surely a topic of discussion in 1996, Jackson’s third year of law school, where she was an editor of the Harvard Law Review. It beggars belief to say she was unfamiliar with it entirely.

The senator pressed on: “Do you interpret Justice Ginsburg’s meaning of ‘men and women’ as ‘male and female’?”

Judge Jackson demurred. “Again, because I don’t know the case, I don’t know how I interpret it.”

So Blackburn made it even simpler: “Can you provide a definition of the word ‘woman’?”

Again, Jackson pretended to not understand something that people have understood since the beginning of time.

“I can’t,” she said. “Not in this context, I’m not a biologist.”

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If Ketanji Brown Jackson Doesn’t Know What A ‘Woman’ Is, Why Does She Use The Word So Much?

Joe Biden’s recent Supreme Court nominee Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, whom the president has admitted was nominated in part because she is a woman, stunned listeners on Tuesday when she refused to give a definition of what a woman is.

“I can’t. … I’m not a biologist,” Jackson said after Republican Sen. Marsha Blackburn asked her to provide a definition of the word “woman.”

But for not knowing what a “woman” is, Jackson loves to use the word. Here are 14 times she invokes the fairer sex in just the first two days of her confirmation hearings, plus 34 times she’s used the word in her legal opinions as a judge

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