The Philadelphia Chromosome: A Mutant Gene and the Quest to Cure Cancer at the Genetic Level

The Philadelphia Chromosome: A Mutant Gene and the Quest to Cure Cancer at the Genetic Level

Jessica Wapner

Language: English

Pages: 320

ISBN: 1615190678

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

The Philadelphia Chromosome: A Mutant Gene and the Quest to Cure Cancer at the Genetic Level

Jessica Wapner

Language: English

Pages: 320

ISBN: 1615190678

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


A Wall Street Journal 10 Best Nonfiction Book of the Year

“Among a small cluster of very good recent books on cancer.” —The New York Times

Philadelphia, 1959: A scientist scrutinizing a single human cell under a microscope detects a missing piece of DNA. That scientist, David Hungerford, had no way of knowing that he had stumbled upon the starting point of modern cancer research— the Philadelphia chromosome. It would take doctors and researchers around the world more than three decades to unravel the implications of this landmark discovery. In 1990, the Philadelphia chromosome was recognized as the sole cause of a deadly blood cancer, chronic myeloid leukemia, or CML. Cancer research would never be the same.

Science journalist Jessica Wapner reconstructs more than forty years of crucial breakthroughs, clearly explains the science behind them, and pays tribute—with extensive original reporting, including more than thirty-five interviews—to the dozens of researchers, doctors, and patients with a direct role in this inspirational story. Their curiosity and determination would ultimately lead to a lifesaving treatment unlike anything before it.

The Philadelphia Chromosome chronicles the remarkable change of fortune for the more than 70,000 people worldwide who are diagnosed with CML each year. It is a celebration of a rare triumph in the battle against cancer and a blueprint for future research, as doctors and scientists race to uncover and treat the genetic roots of a wide range of cancers.

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Baltimore’s attention, a look of recognition crept across his face. Why was that name so familiar? It took them about two minutes to realize why: Baltimore had already caught wind of Abelson’s work because Abelson had joined a lab right upstairs from Baltimore’s when he’d left the NIH. When Rosenberg approached Abelson about using his virus, he was happy to oblige, supplying her with a glass vial of ground-up, filtered tumor extract from a mouse that had been injected with the mysterious virus.

m o s o m e It worked. The cells became infected and continued to divide, and the virus continued to replicate. Like an impressionable child, these embryonic cells proved susceptible to the virus outside of the protective shield of the womb. And as they began to replicate, they turned cancerous. Bone marrow cells from mature mice, they later found, did likewise. Rosenberg had created a transformation system, as it was called, for the Abelson virus. Now, Rosenberg and Baltimore had a way to

Hospital, and he knew that ultimately he wanted to help patients. That had been the goal of his immersion in basic science all along, however unarticulated it had been. By 1990, as he took stock of his talents and interests, he saw his growing expertise in kinase biology and his expertise in cancer care finally coming together. “Why don’t I work on a human disease caused by kinase?” he asked himself. George Daley had just nailed down the final proof about the cause of CML. Because Druker and

what dose to watch for in clinical trials. If they don’t show toxicity, Novartis will have wasted millions of dollars in two years. Druker had patients who needed it immediately. Druker followed Lydon’s advice. He told Matter that investigators who’d been through the IND process and representatives from the FDA itself all thought the compound deserved a chance to be studied in a phase I clinical trial, the first stage of human studies. He told him that the ongoing thirteen-week study in primates

permanent CEO and chairman of Novartis, and was still getting to know his employees. Born and raised in Switzerland, Vasella had been a doctor of internal and psychosomatic medicine for eight years when, in the mid-1980s, he started wondering what it would be like to work in the pharmaceutical industry. His wife’s uncle was the head of Sandoz, and Vasella, curious about the business of medicine, peppered him with questions. In 1987, the new head of Sandoz offered Vasella a job in marketing,

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