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45 of 45 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An empowering book
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...
Published on 27 Oct 2011 by J. Chapman

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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Frustrating to read.
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...
Published 9 months ago by Mike


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45 of 45 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An empowering book, 27 Oct 2011
By 
J. Chapman (Kent, England) - See all my reviews
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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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69 of 70 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Science at the very edge, 30 Dec 2011
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D. Jones (Warwickshire) - See all my reviews
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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. For example Professor Sir John Gurdon worked for ten years to explain why most cells remain forever of the same type through permanent gene inactivation, it explains why liver cells never become brain cells. Professor Yamanaka is one of the youngest luminaries in the stem cell and pluripotency field. He and his team has managed to convert adult cells back into pluripotent stem cells, thus offsetting the sensitive issue of using embryonic stem cells.

The latter half of the book covers the application of epigenetics. It starts with cancer and all its complexities and why we are unlikely to hear "Boffin finds cure for cancer" as there are many, many routes to cancer.

Then she moves on to mental illness such as schizophrenia and the role this new science may play along with the possible link between memory and genetics.

In one chapter the issue of ageing is discussed and its genetic underpinnings and are we likely to find drugs to help us live longer?

Finally, the topic of plant genetics is covered and she explains how a bee, a human and a tulip share very similar molecular mechanisms but they use them in a different way.

Throughout the book there are references to source material and these are found in the back of the book if you want to learn more (which I do).

Epigenetics is only just getting started and the author refers to conferences that occurred even as late as 2011. This is leading edge science.

It is a fascinating book. Yes, it is a technically demanding book. But if you are keen to get a deeper understanding of the future of genetics then I highly recommend it.
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Could hardly be more fascinating!, 2 Jan 2012
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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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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Frustrating to read., 5 Dec 2013
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This review is from: The Epigenetics Revolution: How Modern Biology is Rewriting Our Understanding of Genetics, Disease and Inheritance (Paperback)
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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58 of 61 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An exhilarating journey through the latest biological revolution, 13 Sep 2011
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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.Even a father's diet can directly influence the gene expression and health of his offspring.The organism can be affected by an environmental event long after this initiating event has occurred.Research shows that abuse and neglect in childhood can often result in mental illness in adulthood through epigenetic mechanisms modulated by hormonal signalling during critical developmental stages.
The diverse applications of this new biological revolution are truly mind boggling whether in cancer research. ageing research, cloning process,sex linked disease or the study of memory.Epigeneticists are likely to be at the forefront of the next batch of Nobel prize candidates.
The book is a real tour de force, it is timely and informed by the latest genetic research described in an approchable style for the non expert.Its optimism is contagious though I have my reservations about cancer cure or delaying ageing.The genetic story is just beginning to unfold and there is still a lot more to come.This is a good place to start, it is certainly the best popular book on Genetics I have read since Matt Ridley's" Genome".
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Epigenetics - the future, 11 Oct 2011
Brilliant book and understandable for even a layman like me. Fascinating insight into today's research looking at inherited characteristics and their importance in diagnosing and hopefully preventing current life-threatening illness.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars How you Express Your Self, 21 Jun 2012
By 
J. Taylor (Poole, UK) - See all my reviews
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With all the hype surrounding the sequencing of the human genome, one could be forgiven for imagining that the recipe for a human being would be precisely understood if only we had the time to read it. Carey's book sets the record straight: 'When' and 'How' the instructions of the human recipe are carried out, is frequently controlled by other genetic material, which in turn can be influenced by the environment.

One of the things I particularly liked about this book was that Carey takes time to frame the results of epigenetic modifications in the context of evolution: This helps the reader understand how a system with significant long term health costs can still be selected for (to reap the more important benefits.) I also enjoyed the numerous analogies to explain some of the harder concepts.

A note of caution - make sure you are familiar with genetics before launching into this book. Despite the good chapter structure and progressive build up, a layman attempting to 'run before he can walk' will be likely to find progress discouragingly slow! This book is not 'mind candy', it is quite scholarly, but interspersed with many fascinating and amusing anecdotes.

Overall this really is a very good first book and I hope it's not the last!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mindblowing, each page opens my eyes to another possibility., 20 May 2012
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This review is from: The Epigenetics Revolution: How Modern Biology is Rewriting Our Understanding of Genetics, Disease and Inheritance (Paperback)
I'm only halfway through the book and I am absolutely blown away by the concepts in it. That additions or deletions of small chemicals can change our phenotype . . . but the DNA remains the same? This idea wouldn't even have occured to me. Everything taught at school or college is all, DNA IS THE MOST IMPORTANT THING!!! As the book says, DNA is a script to be interpreted, not a blueprint to be followed exactly. The way the author writes is brilliant, not at all stuffy and wordy which is what I would expect from a book with such an academic title. Analogies are used frequently to help us understand, and the actual subject of the analogues themselves is modern and up date so you constantly have a realistic grip on what exactly is being explained. When talking about the human curiosity with twins she refers to 'The Weasley Twins from Harry Potter' at this point the author completely won me over!!
This book touches on many things I have wondered about myself (eg. Can two sperm nuclei fuse to form a viable organism, there's the correct number of chromosomes so why not? It turns out two sperm cannot. And why? Epigenetics)
For anyone with an interest in genes and inhertiance this book is a must.
I would recommend this book to anyone who wants to understand why DNA is not the be all and end all of inheritance, disease and why humans are like they are.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I enjoying this easy to understand book on Genetics, 2 Sep 2011
I enjoyed this book as it was easy to understand, funny and interesting. I now understand all this genetics stuff they keep on about in the news and media. I have got my head around terms like epigenetics, gene therapy and stem cells. It is an area that is changing all the time as new discoveries are made, especially in the last 5-10 years.

I like the references to things that I understand in the real world like the life of Audrey Hepburn.

What interested me was Dr Carey said that our DNA is not a fixed code but more like a screen play to a film that can be made differently depending on the director, cast, crew etc. If our Genes are the original book then Epigenetics is the screen play. So different versions of the same book make very different films. Therefore what we eat and our environment can effect out genetic make-up for our children and grandchildren. Dr Carey describes it much better that I can in this review!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An excellent introduction to the subject, 3 Feb 2013
By 
JR Joffe (London) - See all my reviews
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Beautifully written, with anecdotes and analogies for help in understanding the subject, this book is not for people who know nothing about the new genetics. For people with some knowledge of the scientific basis of molecular genetics it is the ideal entrypoint into the bridge between naure and nurture.
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