The Secret of Life: Redesigning the Living World

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9780716733119: The Secret of Life: Redesigning the Living World

DNA's power is global - it has orchestrated the history of life on earth for three and a half billion years. Yet its touch is intimate - it determines your chances of getting cancer, the amount of cholesterol in your father's blood, and the color of your daughter's eyes. Over the past three decades, advances in our knowledge of DNA have transformed our understanding of the living world and reached into every corner of biological research. Already the rewards of this new biology have been extraordinary - genetically engineered crops, a deeper understanding of evolutionary theory, and nearly every advance in the struggle against AIDS. But molecular biology, through abilities that draw us ever closer to "playing God" with DNA, also raises awesome ethical and moral questions that didn't exist a half-century ago. The Secret of Life takes both the newly curious and the seasoned biology reader on a guided tour of this ongoing scientific revolution and its impact on our daily lives. Biologist and science writer Joe Levine and geneticist David Suzuki reveal how scientists' ability to crack and manipulate the genetic code - learning which genes do what and how - is transforming medicine, especially the treatment of inherited diseases. They show us how this knowledge is leading to experimental treatments such as gene therapy - molecular surgery with the power to cure and alter the next generation. They introduce us to the brave new world of "designer" plants and transgenic animals like Tracy (a ewe whose genetically altered mammary glands secrete valuable proteins into her milk), and to the controversies over altering these living creatures for human benefit. And they examine the contentious fieldof human behavioral genetics, asking whether it is reasonable to suggest that genes can fine-tune subtle aspects of personality and be linked to complex conditions such as alcoholism and schizophrenia. Through tales of scientific discovery, personal case studies, engaging histor

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Levine, Joseph; Suzuki, David
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