One Renegade Cell: The Quest For The Origins Of Cancer (Science Masters Series)

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9780465072750: One Renegade Cell: The Quest For The Origins Of Cancer (Science Masters Series)
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Cancer research has reached a major turning point. The quality and quantity of information gathered about this disease in the past twenty years has revolutionized our understanding of its origins and behavior. No one is better qualified to comment on these dramatic leaps forward than molecular biologist Robert A. Weinberg, director of one of the leading cancer research centers in the world. In One Renegade Cell , Weinberg presents an accessible and state-of-the-art account of how the disease begins and how, one day, it will be cured.Weinberg tells how the roots of cancer were uncovered in 1909 and when the first cancer-causing virus was discovered. He then moves forward to the discovery of the role of chemical carcinogens and radiation in triggering cancer, and relates the remarkable story of the discoveries of oncogenes and tumor suppressor genes, the master controllers of normal and malignant cell proliferation.This book, which presumes little prior knowledge of biology, describes the revolution in biomedical research that has finally uncovered the forces driving malignant growth. Drawing on insights that simply were not available until recently, the discoveries presented in One Renegade Cell have already begun to profoundly alter the way that we diagnose and treat human cancers.

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Review:

"Cancer wreaks havoc in almost every part of the human body"--Robert Weinberg's opening remark is a chilling reminder of the pervasiveness of an all-too-familiar disease. Cancer touches most families, and if you have ever wondered why, despite so much time, effort, and money, it has proved such a seemingly intractable problem, then read One Renegade Cell, Robert Weinberg's masterful explanation. As director of the Oncology Research Laboratory at the Whitehead Institute and professor of Biology at MIT, Weinberg has been at the forefront of cancer research for well over a decade.

Unlike most diseases, cancerous tumors are not foreign invaders but "take on the appearance of alien life forms, invaders that enter the body through stealth and begin their programs of destruction from within." But as Weinberg shows, these are deceptive appearances. And since he is foremost a scientist, he finds the truth "subtle and endlessly interesting" and manages to convey fascination for something that most of us dread--cancer. Much of the present increase in cancer is due to increased longevity because "given enough time, cancer will strike every human body."

By telling the story of the historical discovery of cancer, Weinberg is able to introduce gradually the intricacies and complications of the genes and proteins involved (oncogenes, tumor suppressor genes, etc.) for the general reader. He characterizes cancer cells as renegade because, unlike normal body cells, they "disregard the needs of the community of cells," they are "selfish and unsociable," and are only interested in "their own proliferative advantage." By comparison, normal cells hold down cell numbers by "inducing them to commit suicide" (apoptosis).

The understanding of cancer has been developed enormously over the last few decades by Weinberg and the worldwide community of researchers. As Weinberg eloquently shows, cancer research and its related disciplines "have moved from substantial ignorance to deep insight." --Douglas Palmer, Amazon.co.uk

About the Author:

A Founding Member of Whitehead Institute, Robert A. Weinberg is a pioneer in cancer research most widely known for his discoveries of the first human oncogene—a gene that causes normal cells to form tumors—and the first tumor suppressor gene. Weinberg, who received his PhD in biology from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1969, has held research positions at the Weizmann Institute and the Salk Institute. In 1982, Weinberg helped found Whitehead Institute, joined the faculty as a professor of biology at MIT, and published his landmark paper "Mechanism of Activation of a Human Oncogene" in the journal Nature. In 1999, another major paper, "Creation of Human Tumor Cells with Defined Genetic Elements," was also published in Nature.

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