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The Epigenetics Revolution: How Modern Biology is Rewriting Our Understanding of Genetics, Disease and Inheritance Paperback – 1 Mar 2012

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'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 '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 '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 understanding of epigenetics for drug discovery, and on understanding the impact of diet and environment on disease.' -- Nature '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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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

53 of 53 people found the following review helpful By Jules5691 on 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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77 of 78 people found the following review helpful By D. Jones #1 HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWER on 30 Dec. 2011
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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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful By tiggrie AKA Sarah on 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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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Mike on 5 Dec. 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Breifly, the authoress knows her topic without question and the book opened my eyes to a plethora of information I was unaware of.

That said, the book for me was very taxing to read. I will admit that my knowledge of biology and chemistry stops at a college level. I have had no problems absorbing complex physics/other books and i feel this book is very much not pitched correctly at any level. It leaps from overly simplified analogies of say 'Imagine a grape inside a tennis ball' - that are really not needed and jumps straight into pretty advanced concepts that should be the ones simplified for general understanding.

I am not a fan of leaving poor reviews or diminishing anothers work, but honestly i think this is poorly structured/written. Anyone with a casual interest may find this a struggle and taxing as I did, constantly having to use wikipedia to clarify certain aspects. Those already versed in the field should know much of the contents already and thus surely has limited value to them.

I accept that possibly it's just me, bieng stupid, but this is the first book I have ever got actually frustrated with, and I tolerated the ramblings of Machievelli, countless theoretical/quantum physics papers and the vaugeness of 'Iconic' Psychiatrists.
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62 of 65 people found the following review helpful By docread on 13 Sept. 2011
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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