The Philadelphia Chromosome: A Mutant Gene and the Quest to Cure Cancer at the Genetic Level

Jessica Wapner - 2013
    That scientist, David Hungerford, had no way of knowing that he had stumbled upon the starting point of modern cancer research—the Philadelphia chromosome. This book charts not only that landmark discovery, but also—for the first time, all in one place—the full sequence of scientific and medical discoveries that brought about the first-ever successful treatment of a lethal cancer at the genetic level.The significance of this mutant chromosome would take more than three decades to unravel; in 1990, it was recognized as the sole cause of a deadly blood cancer, chronic myeloid leukemia, or CML. This dramatic discovery launched a race involving doctors and researchers around the world, who recognized that in principle it might be possible to target CML at its genetic source.Science journalist Jessica Wapner brings extensive original reporting to this book, including interviews with more than thirty-five people with a direct role in this story. Wapner reconstructs more than forty years of crucial breakthroughs, clearly explains the science behind them, and pays tribute to the dozens of researchers, doctors, and patients whose curiosity and determination restored the promise of a future to the more than 70,000 people worldwide who are diagnosed with CML each year. Chief among them is researcher and oncologist Dr. Brian Druker, whose dedication to his patients fueled his quest to do everything within his power to save them.The Philadelphia Chromosome helps us to fully understand and appreciate just how pathbreaking, hard-won, and consequential are the achievements it recounts—and to understand the principles behind much of today’s most important cancer research, as doctors and scientists race to uncover and treat the genetic roots of a wide range of cancers.

Junk DNA: A Journey Through the Dark Matter of the Genome

Nessa Carey - 2015
    For decades after the structure of DNA was identified, scientists focused purely on genes, the regions of the genome that contain codes for the production of proteins. Other regions - 98% of the human genome - were dismissed as 'junk'. But in recent years researchers have discovered that variations in this 'junk' DNA underlie many previously intractable diseases, and they can now generate new approaches to tackling them. Nessa Carey explores, for the first time for a general audience, the incredible story behind a controversy that has generated unusually vituperative public exchanges between scientists. She shows how junk DNA plays an important role in areas as diverse as genetic diseases, viral infections, sex determination in mammals, human biological complexity, disease treatments, even evolution itself - and reveals how we are only now truly unlocking its secrets, more than half a century after Crick and Watson won their Nobel prize for the discovery of the structure of DNA in 1962.

The Trouble with Testosterone and Other Essays on the Biology of the Human Predicament

Robert M. Sapolsky - 1997
    Best of all, he's a gifted writer who possesses a delightfully devilish sense of humor. In these essays, which range widely but mostly focus on the relationships between biology and human behavior, hard and intricate science is handled with a deft touch that makes it accessible to the general reader. In one memorable piece, Sapolsky compares the fascination with tabloid TV to behavior he's observed among wild African baboons. "Rubber necks," notes the professor, "seem to be a common feature of the primate order." In the title essay of The Trouble with Testosterone, Sapolsky ruminates on the links, real or perceived, between that hormone and aggression.Covering such broad topics as science, politics, history, and nature, the author of Why Zebras Don't Get Ulcers writes accessible and interesting essays that explore the human struggle with moral and ethical problems in today's world. 20,000 first printing.

Viruses: A Very Short Introduction

Dorothy H. Crawford - 2011
    In this Very Short Introduction, eminent biologist and popular science writer Dorothy Crawford offers a fascinating portrait of these infinitesimally small but often highly dangerous creatures. Crawford first relates how viruses were discovered and she unravels the intricate structures of tiny parasites that are by far the most abundant life forms on the planet. Analyzing the threat of viral infections, Crawford recounts stories of renowned killer viruses such as Ebola and rabies as well as the less known bat-borne Nipah and Hendra viruses. She identifies wild animals as the source of the most recent pandemics, detailing the reasons behind the present increase in potentially fatal infections, and evaluating the evidence that suggests that long term viruses can eventually lead to cancer. Finally, Crawford looks to the future to ask whether we can ever live in harmony with viruses, and considers ways to prevent the emergence of new and devastating viruses.

Blood Matters: A Journey Along the Genetic Frontier

Masha Gessen - 2008
    The discovery initiated Gessen into a club of sorts: the small (but exponentially expanding) group of people in possession of a new and different way of knowing themselves through what is inscribed in the strands of their DNA. As she wrestled with a wrenching personal decision—what to do with such knowledge—Gessen explored the landscape of this brave new world, speaking with others like her and with experts including medical researchers, historians, and religious thinkers. Blood Matters is a much-needed field guide to this unfamiliar and unsettling territory. It explores the way genetic information is shaping the decisions we make, not only about our physical and emotional health but about whom we marry, the children we bear, even the personality traits we long to have. And it helps us come to terms with the radical transformation that genetic information is engineering in our most basic sense of who we are and what we might become.

She Has Her Mother's Laugh: The Powers, Perversions, and Potential of Heredity

Carl Zimmer - 2018
    Charles Darwin played a crucial part in turning heredity into a scientific question, and yet he failed spectacularly to answer it. The birth of genetics in the early 1900s seemed to do precisely that. Gradually, people translated their old notions about heredity into a language of genes. As the technology for studying genes became cheaper, millions of people ordered genetic tests to link themselves to missing parents, to distant ancestors, to ethnic identities. . . .But, Zimmer writes, "Each of us carries an amalgam of fragments of DNA, stitched together from some of our many ancestors. Each piece has its own ancestry, traveling a different path back through human history. A particular fragment may sometimes be cause for worry, but most of our DNA influences who we are--our appearance, our height, our penchants--in inconceivably subtle ways." Heredity isn't just about genes that pass from parent to child. Heredity continues within our own bodies, as a single cell gives rise to trillions of cells that make up our bodies. We say we inherit genes from our ancestors--using a word that once referred to kingdoms and estates--but we inherit other things that matter as much or more to our lives, from microbes to technologies we use to make life more comfortable. We need a new definition of what heredity is and, through Carl Zimmer's lucid exposition and storytelling, this resounding tour de force delivers it. Weaving historical and current scientific research, his own experience with his two daughters, and the kind of original reporting expected of one of the world's best science journalists, Zimmer ultimately unpacks urgent bioethical quandaries arising from new biomedical technologies, but also long-standing presumptions about who we really are and what we can pass on to future generations.

Life's Greatest Secret: The Race to Crack the Genetic Code

Matthew Cobb - 2015
    Just a half century ago, this idea was revolutionary. In April 1953, James Watson and Francis Crick published in Nature their groundbreaking work revealing the double helix structure of DNA. While this discovery received wide attention from both mainstream media and the academic community, it was just one part of the bigger story in this history of molecular biology. By the mid-1950s, the scientific community confirmed that genes were indeed comprised of DNA; they just needed to crack the genetic code—and the race was on. Life’s Greatest Secret is the full and rich history of this challenge and the characters—many of whom were not biologists—whose work contributed to this grand scientific endeavor: mathematician and father of cybernetics Norbert Wiener, physicist Erwin Schrödinger, information theorist Claude Shannon, and biologists Jacques Monod and Marshall Nirenberg.In Life’s Greatest Secret, science historian and zoologist Matthew Cobb shows that the race to crack the genetic code was mostly a matter of craft—individuals or small groups struggling with ideas and concepts as much as they were with facts, trying to find the right experiment to answer the right questions, even if they didn’t know what the questions were, and finding that, even when the most definitive answer served mostly to reveal more ignorance, whether in 1953, with Watson and Crick, or in 1961, when Nirenberg and Matthaei showed how DNA codes for specific amino acids, and again and again thereafter, or in 2000, with the first publication of a human genome. Each discovery was a leap forward in our understanding of the natural world and our place within in, akin to the discoveries of Galileo and Einstein in the realm of physics, or the publication of Darwin’s On the Origin of Species. And each served to show how much bigger the problem was that anyone had previously imagined, a trend that continues, as Cobb shows, even today, whether we are discussing gene regulation, epigenetics, or GMOs.Life’s Greatest Secret is a story of ideas and of experimentation, of ingenuity, insight, and dead-ends, in the hunt to make the greatest discovery of twentieth century biology. Ultimately, though, this is a story of humans exploring what it is that makes us human.

A Brief History of Everyone Who Ever Lived: The Stories in Our Genes

Adam Rutherford - 2016
    It is the history of who you are and how you came to be. It is unique to you, as it is to each of the 100 billion modern humans who have ever drawn breath. But it is also our collective story, because in every one of our genomes we each carry the history of our species births, deaths, disease, war, famine, migration, and a lot of sex. Since scientists first read the human genome in 2001, it has been subject to all sorts of claims, counterclaims, and myths. In fact, as Adam Rutherford explains, our genomes should be read not as instruction manuals, but as epic poems. DNA determines far less than we have been led to believe about us as individuals, but vastly more about us as a species. In this captivating journey through the expanding landscape of genetics, Adam Rutherford reveals what our genes now tell us about history, and what history tells us about our genes. From Neanderthals to murder, from redheads to race, dead kings to plague, evolution to epigenetics, this is a demystifying and illuminating new portrait of who we are and how we came to be."

The Compatibility Gene

Daniel M. Davis - 2013
    In The Compatibility Gene, one of our foremost immunologists tells the remarkable history of these genes' discovery and the unlocking of their secrets. Davis shows how the compatibility gene is radically transforming our knowledge of the way our bodies work - and is having profound consequences for medical research and ethics. Looking to the future, he considers the startling possibilities of what these wondrous discoveries might mean for you and me.

Introducing Epigenetics: A Graphic Guide

Cath Ennis - 2017
    We’ll look at what identical twins can teach us about the epigenetic effects of our environment and experiences, why certain genes are 'switched on' or off at various stages of embryonic development, and how scientists have reversed the specialization of cells to clone frogs from a single gut cell. In Introducing Epigenetics, Cath Ennis and Oliver Pugh pull apart the double helix, examining how the epigenetic building blocks and messengers that interpret and edit our genes help to make us, well, us.

Pleased to Meet Me: Genes, Germs, and the Curious Forces That Make Us Who We Are

Bill Sullivan - 2019
    The foods we enjoy, the people we love, the emotions we feel, and the beliefs we hold can all be traced back to our DNA, germs, and environment. This witty, colloquial book is popular science at its best, describing in everyday language how genetics, epigenetics, microbiology, and psychology work together to influence our personality and actions. Mixing cutting-edge research and relatable humor, Pleased to Meet Me is filled with fascinating insights that shine a light on who we really are--and how we might become our best selves.

An Epidemic of Absence: A New Way of Understanding Allergies and Autoimmune Diseases

Moises Velasquez-Manoff - 2012
    But why are they on the rise?     Science writer Moises Velasquez-Manoff offers a new and controversial way of thinking about autoimmune disease—one that may foster a paradigm shift in the way we think about health and hygiene.     In the early twentieth century, the dawn of improved hygiene, water treatment, vaccines, and antibiotics saved countless lives, eradicating diseases that had plagued humanity for millennia. But in the wake of this triumph, a new threat arose: The human immune system began to malfunction.     A growing body of evidence suggests that the very steps we took to cure these maladies have also eradicated organisms that once kept our bodies in balance. To combat this “epidemic of absence,” a group of scientists has begun deliberately reintroducing parasitic worms—helminthes—to calm the immune system of their hosts. This book takes a close look at the scientists at the vanguard of “worm therapy,” which has been proven to not only preempt immune malfunction, but to send a number of disorders—from Crohn’s Disease to multiple sclerosis to asthma—into remission.     Exploring the greater context of rampant immune system dysfunction in the developed world, and its implications for developing countries, Velasquez-Manoff offers an eye-opening and elegant portrait of science’s new view of the human organism.

The Mysterious World of the Human Genome

Frank Ryan - 2015
    The latest studies are revealing exciting new discoveries, such as how the DNA and related chemical compounds in our cells work together to direct the processes of life. Scientists are not only unraveling how life evolved in the ancient past, but are also finding the keys to creating a healthier future.  How does the minuscule chemical cluster in each of our 100 trillion cells accomplish the amazing feat of creating and maintaining our bodies? Frank Ryan, a physician and an evolutionary biologist, describes the complex ways in which the genome operates as a holistic system and not solely through genes coding for proteins—the building blocks of life. Also involved are elaborate switching mechanisms that regulate and control portions of our DNA, as well as the interplay of retroviruses and bacteria.This groundbreaking book explains that we are on the cusp of an amazing era of disease treatment and eradication.

Genome: the Autobiography of a Species in 23 Chapters

Matt Ridley - 1999

Good Germs, Bad Germs: Health and Survival in a Bacterial World

Jessica Snyder Sachs - 2007
    As a result, antibiotic resistance now ranks among the gravest medical problems of modern times. Good Germs, Bad Germs addresses not only this issue but also what has become known as the "hygiene hypothesis"-- an argument that links the over-sanitation of modern life to now-epidemic increases in immune and other disorders. In telling the story of what went terribly wrong in our war on germs, Jessica Snyder Sachs explores our emerging understanding of the symbiotic relationship between the human body and its resident microbes--which outnumber its human cells by a factor of nine to one! The book also offers a hopeful look into a future in which antibiotics will be designed and used more wisely, and beyond that, to a day when we may replace antibacterial drugs and cleansers with bacterial ones--each custom-designed for maximum health benefits.