In the fall of 2005, leading scientists from the National Cancer Institute announced the beginning of the cancer genome atlas project, a large-scale endeavor to map every gene implicated in cancer and the first step toward development of new therapies for treating this still baffling disease. This spin-off of the human genome project is only the latest exciting research advance in a decades-long quest to fully understand the biochemistry of the human body and thereby gain insights into the secrets of health, disease, and aging.
In the new book DNA: How the Biotech Revolution Is Changing the Way We Fight Disease (Prometheus Books) biochemist and veteran lab researcher Frank H. Stephenson tells the compelling story of how scientists on many fronts are succeeding in the battle against disease.
According to Stephenson, efforts to understand the nature of disease, down to its component molecular foundation, have reached an unprecedented intensity. “There is an excitement out there, an expectation, that we are but a little ways away from stopping cancer in its tracks, from curing diabetes, and from preventing afflictions such as Alzheimer’s, AIDS, and malaria,” he says. “There is the sense that each gene we discover, each molecular pathway we elucidate brings us closer to cures.”
With a gift for making the complexities of genetics and biochemistry understandable to the average reader, Stephenson offers a fascinating tour of the mechanisms of our body and the therapeutic techniques that are gaining in sophistication and effectiveness every year. From heart disease to AIDS and cancer, he helps you understand how the tools of biotechnology are being used to combat our most common afflictions. Stephenson examines a wide variety of health threats and illnesses: HIV infection, the many forms of cancer, asthma, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, obesity, and even erectile dysfunction. Each is discussed in terms of its root cause and treatment in plain, jargon-free language that not only educates but also entertains.
In DNA, Stephenson offers many insights into both the diseases that destroy health and the great promises that biotechnology offers for preserving and prolonging a healthy life. New Scientist called it “??¦a spirited riposte to those who argue that molecular biology and genome mapping will never make major contributions to human well-being??¦Crisply written in 40 mini-chapters, it makes a vivid introductory guide to an ongoing revolution.”
Frank H. Stephenson, Ph.D. (Pacifica, CA), has worked in the biotechnology industry for many years. He is the author of Calculations for Molecular Biology and Biotechnology, as well as book chapters and articles on biochemistry.
Contact: Lynn Pasquale