- 22,99 €
Discovered and identified as the cause of mad cow disease only three decades ago, the prion is a protein molecule that, when misshapen in the brain, becomes fatal. Novel and controversial, prions have provoked a scientific revolution.They challenge the very foundations of biology:A disease-causing entity with no genetic material at all?A molecule capable of infecting, multiplying, and killing? This book recounts thebirth of prion science and the imaginative detective work scientists have undertakenas theystruggle to find the answers to devastating brain diseases from mad cow and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease to Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, Lou Gehrig’s, and others.As in each of his best-selling books, Jay Ingram here makes complex scientific concepts accessible and shows how little-known events may have profound significance. He describes the development of prion science as a rough-and-tumble affair, with rivals, eccentrics, interfering governments, and brilliantly creative people all playing salient roles. Weaving biology, medicine, human tragedy, discovery, and bitter scientific competition into his account, he reveals the stunning potential of prion science, whose discoveries may unlock the answers to some of humankind’s most destructive diseases.
Science writer Ingram (Theatre of the Mind) provides a thorough overview and update on prion diseases for laypersons. Readers will find the pages turning themselves as they engage with an ongoing medical research enigma. From kuru, the disease that felled New Guineans observing a ghastly carnivorous tradition, to the sheep disease scrapie, known since 1775, to the more recent manifestations of mad cow disease and Creuzfeldt-Jakob Disease in humans, Ingram details the symptoms that mystified researchers for decades until misfolded proteins, named "prions", were identified and hypothesized as the cause of these fatal neurodegenerative diseases. Though their exact roles are still debated, misfolded proteins have now been implicated in Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, ALS, and other human diseases, as well as Chronic Wasting Disease in deer. Ingram balances his narrative with facts and theories to provide a fascinating view into the complexities of cellular life, with several illustrations and photomicrographs to enable the lay reader to visualize what scientists have observed. Noting that puzzles still remain to be solved, Ingram concludes that "prions have revolutionized thinking about how disease can spread... and they still may open doors to the understanding of conditions like Alzheimer's."