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The Epigenetics Revolution: How Modern Biology is Rewriting Our Understanding of Genetics, Disease and Inheritance [Paperback]

Nessa Carey
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (78 customer reviews)
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Book Description

1 Mar 2012
At the beginning of this century enormous progress had been made in genetics. The Human Genome Project finished sequencing human DNA. It seemed it was only a matter of time until we had all the answers to the secrets of life on this planet. The cutting-edge of biology, however, is telling us that we still don't even know all of the questions. How is it that, despite each cell in your body carrying exactly the same DNA, you don't have teeth growing out of your eyeballs or toenails on your liver? How is it that identical twins share exactly the same DNA and yet can exhibit dramatic differences in the way that they live and grow? It turns out that cells read the genetic code in DNA more like a script to be interpreted than a mould that replicates the same result each time. This is epigenetics and it's the fastest-moving field in biology today. The Epigenetics Revolution traces the thrilling path this discipline has taken over the last twenty years. Biologist Nessa Carey deftly explains such diverse phenomena as how queen bees and ants control their colonies, why tortoiseshell cats are always female, why some plants need a period of cold before they can flower, why we age, develop disease and become addicted to drugs, and much more. Most excitingly, Carey reveals the amazing possibilities for humankind that epigenetics offers for us all - and in the surprisingly near future.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Icon Books Ltd (1 Mar 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1848313470
  • ISBN-13: 978-1848313477
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (78 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,770 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

'A book that would have had Darwin swooning - anyone seriously interested in who we are and how we function should read this book.' -- Guardian '[A] splendidly clear explanation' -- Colin Berry The Oldie 'Fascinating stuff.' -- Bookseller 'Nessa Carey takes us on a lively and up-to-date tour of what's known about epigenetic mechanisms and their implications for ageing and cancer.' -- BBC Focus 'A hugely compelling explanation of the very latest from the frontline of modern biology ... The Epigenetics Revolution traces the thrilling path this discipline has taken over the last twenty years.' -- Waterstones The Daily Mail: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2031505/Audrey-Hepburn-Is-key-stopping-obesity-epidemic.html?ito=feeds-newsxml -- The Daily Mail Nessa was well mentioned on HuffPost. No direct mention of the book, but a link in the article to the Daily Mail Hepburn piece: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/stephan-b-tanda/non-communicable-diseases_b_973156.html -- Huffington Post A review from India on the Sakal Times website: http://www.sakaaltimes.com/sakaaltimesbeta/20110912/4661755374037033104.htm -- Sakal Times At the beginning of this century enormous progress had been made in genetics. The Human Genome Project finished sequencing human DNA. It seemed it was only a matter of time until we had all the answers to the secrets of life on this planet. The cutting-edge of biology, however, is telling us that we still don't even know all of the questions. How is it that, despite each cell in your body carrying exactly the same DNA, you don't have teeth growing out of your eyeballs or toenails on your liver? How is it that identical twins share exactly the same DNA and yet can exhibit dramatic differences in the way that they live and grow? It turns out that cells read the genetic code in DNA more like a script to be interpreted than a mould that replicates the same result each time. This is epigenetics and it's the fastest-moving field in biology today. The Epigenetics Revolution traces the thrilling path this discipline has taken over the last twenty years. Biologist Nessa Carey deftly explains such diverse phenomena as how queen bees and ants control their colonies, why tortoiseshell cats are always female, why some plants need a period of cold before they can flower, why we age, develop disease and become addicted to drugs, and much more. Most excitingly, Carey reveals the amazing possibilities for humankind that epigenetics offers for us all - and in the surprisingly near future -- Good Reads 'This is a readable book that applies scientific theory to the everyday world.' -- Bookseller 'Her book combines an easy style with a textbook's thoroughness.' -- Nature 'Full of illustrations and entertaining metaphors.' -- Nature 'Sees DNA as a film script, with plenty of room for interpretation and retakes. Carey's experience of the biotechnology industry shows in her concluding remarks on the pros and cons of our growing understand--ing of epigenetics for drug discovery, and on understanding the impact of diet and environment on disease.' -- Nature '[Nessa Carey] explains all clearly, while sucking in the uninitiated with intriguing tales of queen bees, tortoiseshell cats, un-identical identical twins and lots more.' -- Australian 'An exhilarating exploration of an exciting new field, and a good gift for a bright biology student looking for a career choice.' -- Kirkus Review

About the Author

Nessa Carey has a PhD in virology from the University of Edinburgh and has worked in the biotech industry for nearly ten years.

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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
38 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An empowering book 27 Oct 2011
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
What a fabulous book! I couldn't put it down - best page turner I've read for years. Nessa Carey hits just the right note - beautifully clear and pitched at just the right level. She walks you gently through the science, building it up layer by layer, constantly reminding you of the basic facts without making you feel an idiot. All the history of epigenetics, right up to the most current research is covered, with a competent and knowledgable guiding hand. This book makes you think and question everything and it delivers answers to the most intriguing questions. Not only that but it was laced with humour and literary quotes that made reading it a delight. Hats off to Nessa! (Although everything is explained, I would warn readers that a basic knowledge of genetics would be an advantage.)
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64 of 65 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Science at the very edge 30 Dec 2011
By D. Jones #1 HALL OF FAME TOP 50 REVIEWER
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Before I read this book my understanding of genetics was quite naive, I thought DNA made proteins, and if there are mutations in the DNA code then that leads to trouble, such as cancer. But only 2% of the human genome makes protein - what is the other 98% for?

Also consider this: A caterpillar that becomes a butterfly has exactly the same DNA - so why do they look so different?

The answer is 'epigenetics'. Whenever two genetically identical individuals are non-identical in some way we can measure, this is called epigenetics. This also includes an individual at different point in their life. For example why does horrendous abuse as a child often lead to problems later in life - is it psychological or is it embedded in the very genes of the person?

In the following sentence, before I read this book, I mostly understood the word 'within'.

"Histone Acetylation and DNA methylation within a CpG motif in the promoter region mediates gene expression ...."

By half way through this book I understood what this meant.

The author never hides the gritty details from the reader unlike many patronising popular science books that shy away from the scientific detail in case the reader finds it too difficult. She takes you step by step through the main details of epigenetics and the technical language used. It is not difficult, but you do have to take it slowly to digest the information.

To make the subject a bit lighter, the book is dotted with dry humour and pithy literary quotes.

Epigenetics is such a new field that many of the key players are still alive and working away in their laboratories and earning Nobel prizes along the way. She introduces you to some of the leading scientists and the contributions they are making.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Could hardly be more fascinating! 2 Jan 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Word of warning - I may gush! I'm no biologist, but Nessa Carey manages to make epigenetics clear and incredibly interesting to me. This is not an easy read, in that it requires one to think and occasionally to do a little mental gymnastics to get one's head around the concepts she introduces, but nevertheless it's the kind of book that can be gulped down in large servings because Carey is skilled at explaining these high-falutin' concepts so well.

The topics range from inherited traits to cloning and back again, and I found even the descriptions of how certain experiments were undertaken were such that they read incredibly well. This is a book that could havebeen dry as dust, but it's not.

I think probably one where the time taken to read the sample is well spent - I'm sure some people just won't find this that interesting - but if you are at all interested in science, biology, DNA, and the mystery of how things are and aren't passed on, then this is a must read. Absorbing, educational, and downright fascinating. Brilliant.
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57 of 60 people found the following review helpful
By docread
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
The promises of the widely hailed genomic revolution did not materialise.The mapping and sequencing of the human genome failed to set in motion great medical breakthroughs because it could only produce a map of the assembly software.It did't explain how it functioned with only 2% of the genome coding for proteins.The DNA blueprint is certainly a starting point but it isn't a sufficient explanation for the complexity of life.It is a script open to multiple interpretations rather than an unchanging mould.
Epigenetics is the new discipline that is revolutionising biology.It has found in Nessa Carey a most engaging and lucid exponent.She writes in a clear non patronising manner using interesting and witty analogies to bring to life a lot of dry biochemical or genetic concepts.Barely a page passes without a new morsel of knowledge is offered with enthusiasm.
Epigenetics describes the set of modifications to our genetic material that changes the ways the genes are switched on or off without altering the genome.Epigenetic modification doesn't change the sequence of a gene but it alters how and when the gene is expressed. It explains how two organisms can be genetically identical yet phenotypically variable, examples identical twins divergence,queen bees and worker bees,catterpillar and butterfly.
The Epigenome is the missing link between nature and nurture as it reflects environmental differences. Epigenetic modifications are heritable in the short term but do not involve mutation of the DNA . It is the mechanism behind transgenerational Lamarckian inheritance ,for instance poor food availability during crucial gestational development may lead to later pathological consequences visiting two successive generations.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Pretty Impressed
For me this was an invaluable introduction to a subject with which I have had not direct contact for over twenty five years. Read more
Published 15 days ago by Edward
4.0 out of 5 stars cutting edge science for the lay reader
Carey sets out explain the molecular chemistry behind new insights of epigenetics and their implications. This is not easy reading but repays the effort. Read more
Published 18 days ago by mikev
5.0 out of 5 stars An eye opener
Not everyone will follow all the detail in this book. However the amount of detail is impressive. How cell differentiation works, and Cancer research are only two of the areas... Read more
Published 20 days ago by huggybear
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellently explained
Having last studied molecular biology 40 years ago I was a bit apprehensive. Maybe not for the completely scientific illiterate but this book goes slowly and steadily and makes it... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Dilly
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent
I am really enjoying this book. I like the author's way of using easy metaphors to explain or describe very complex processes. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Emi D
5.0 out of 5 stars A highly informative scientific read
This book is science communication at its best - clear, factual and refreshingly free from whizz and wu-wu. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Barrie M. Hatten
3.0 out of 5 stars good, though technical read
This will be a worthwhile read if you have a health science background. If not, prepare to skip over whole sections as the technicalities tie you up in knots.
Published 2 months ago by GDV
5.0 out of 5 stars Exciting subject presented well with a sprinkling of good humour
This is a topic that has opened my eyes to the world of epigenetics. She has done a good job of making complex aspects appear simple and also has a good sense of humour. Read more
Published 2 months ago by P. N. Tilakaratna
4.0 out of 5 stars Great as a starter to understand the world of epigenetics
Persons with no science background will find this book a tough read. This is solely because a basic understanding of Mendelian genetics is required. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Sheila Ramsay
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book
Many sentences must be read 2,3 or even 4 times before you convince yourself you understand them only to realise two pages later that you have to go back and read them again. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Dom
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