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on 8 October 2017
Great quality
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on 5 November 2015
Good book
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on 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 12 March 2017
Good try, now a bit dated. Shame the authors real does not look at the problems of Lyonization and ageing.
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on 2 January 2012
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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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 4 April 2017
A fascinating account of the way in which organisms can and do quickly modify their behaviour and body structure, and pass it on to progeny, without any alteration of the underlying DNA. This is going to ask some big questions of neo-Darwinism.
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on 11 October 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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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 31 October 2017
Very interesting, highly enjoyable and well written. You can get lost and sometimes it is hard to follow but it flows very well and is well worth the read
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