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on 28 August 2017
One of the most spell-binding books I have ever read. For one who had an aversion to biological sciences due to their vagaries and imprecision growing up, this book has opened my eyes to a world of immense intrigue and complexity.

The book is written in such a way that it dives deep into details without assuming any background and takes the casual reader deep into the cell. It's opened my eyes to a branch of research and discovery I knew little about and I can't wait to see whar discoveries are made next.
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on 7 May 2017
This is not an easy book to read.The central reason for this is that the subject itself is not an easy subject to fully understand. Nessa Carey knows her stuff and the stuff she knows is complex. If you're looking for 'Epigenetics For Dummies' wait until someone does it - with lots of pictures. If you want to understand a lot more in depth about epigenetics than you now do, read this book. Slowly.
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on 26 August 2017
Needed a general overview book to keep track of progress in this field. Good and logical coverage of the important points with sufficient cross-reference back up to look at more detail if wanted. This book has what I wanted.
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on 9 May 2017
I was recommended this book from my professor and I am throughly enjoying it. Although I study biology/biochemistry I think that anyone with a willingness to understand this fascinating area of science would be able to understand it. Carey has written it so well and its a joy to read.
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on 12 March 2014
I am really enjoying this book. I like the author's way of using easy metaphors to explain or describe very complex processes.
My interest in in behavioural epigenetics, and this book is possibly a little technical for my needs, but it is worth spending the time to understand the pronciples.
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on 23 March 2016
Well written and interesting. Complex in parts but I found it so brilliantly interesting that I am going to read it again now.
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on 5 November 2015
Good book
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#1 HALL OF FAMEon 30 December 2011
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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on 16 August 2016
Question: If every cell in the human body is contains the same DNA .....why are the cells in my eye so different from those in my foot?
The Answer , here given with some clarity , and in unpretentious language , is that the eye is produced by transcribing ("reading") a different length of the DNA script from that which produces the foot!
A second question then arises: would it be possible to produce any cell by transcribing a specific subset of DNA?
The Answer is again clearly given that any cell could be transcribed from a subset of DNA.
The Author has cleverly given some historical , and personal insight , into the discovery process.........making this a scientific, and personal, detective story , with concealed education!
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on 13 September 2011
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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