The Epigenetics Revolution

How Modern Biology Is Rewriting Our Understanding of Genetics, Disease, and Inheritance

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Author: Nessa Carey

Publisher: Columbia University Press

ISBN: 0231530714

Category: Science

Page: 352

View: 5552

Epigenetics can potentially revolutionize our understanding of the structure and behavior of biological life on Earth. It explains why mapping an organism's genetic code is not enough to determine how it develops or acts and shows how nurture combines with nature to engineer biological diversity. Surveying the twenty-year history of the field while also highlighting its latest findings and innovations, this volume provides a readily understandable introduction to the foundations of epigenetics. Nessa Carey, a leading epigenetics researcher, connects the field's arguments to such diverse phenomena as how ants and queen bees control their colonies; why tortoiseshell cats are always female; why some plants need cold weather before they can flower; and how our bodies age and develop disease. Reaching beyond biology, epigenetics now informs work on drug addiction, the long-term effects of famine, and the physical and psychological consequences of childhood trauma. Carey concludes with a discussion of the future directions for this research and its ability to improve human health and well-being.

Vitamania

How Vitamins Revolutionized the Way We Think About Food

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Author: Catherine Price

Publisher: Penguin

ISBN: 0698192214

Category: Health & Fitness

Page: 336

View: 5812

"A hidden, many-faceted, and urgent story." --Booklist, *STARRED* Most of us know nothing about vitamins. What’s more, what we think we know is harming both our personal nutrition and our national health. By focusing on vitamins at the expense of everything else, we’ve become blind to the bigger picture: despite our belief that vitamins are an absolute good—and the more of them, the better—vitamins are actually small and surprisingly mysterious pieces of a much larger nutritional puzzle. In Vitamania, award-winning journalist Catherine Price offers a lucid and lively journey through our cherished yet misguided beliefs about vitamins, and reveals a straightforward, blessedly anxiety-free path to enjoyable eating and good health. When vitamins were discovered a mere century ago, they changed the destiny of the human species by preventing and curing many terrifying diseases. Yet it wasn’t long before vitamins spread from labs of scientists into the realm of food marketers and began to take on a life of their own. By the end of the Second World War, vitamins were available in forms never before seen in nature—vitamin gum, vitamin doughnuts, even vitamin beer—and their success showed food manufacturers that adding synthetic vitamins to otherwise nutritionally empty products could convince consumers that they were healthy. The era of “vitamania,” as one 1940s journalist called it, had begun. Though we’ve gained much from our embrace of vitamins, what we’ve lost is a crucial sense of perspective. Vitamins may be essential to our lives, but they are not the only important substances in food. By buying into a century of hype and advertising, we have accepted the false idea that particular dietary chemicals can be used as shortcuts to health—whether they be antioxidants or omega-3s or, yes, vitamins. And it’s our vitamin-inspired desire for effortless shortcuts that created today’s dietary supplement industry, a veritable Wild West of overpromising “miracle” substances that can be legally sold without any proof that they are effective or safe. For the countless individuals seeking to maximize their health and who consider vitamins to be the keys to well-being, Price’s Vitamania will be a game-changing look into the roots of America’s ongoing nutritional confusion. Her travels to vitamin manufacturers and food laboratories and military testing kitchens—along with her deep dive into the history of nutritional science— provide a witty and dynamic narrative arc that binds Vitamania together. The result is a page-turning exploration of the history, science, hype, and future of nutrition. And her ultimate message is both inspiring and straightforward: given all that we don’t know about vitamins and nutrition, the best way to decide what to eat is to stop obsessing and simply embrace this uncertainty head-on. By exposing our extraordinary psychological rela¬tionship with vitamins and challenging us to question our beliefs, Vitamania won’t just change the way we think about vitamins. It will change the way we think about food. From the Hardcover edition.

Beyond Mechanism

Putting Life Back Into Biology

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Author: Brian G. Henning,Adam Scarfe

Publisher: Lexington Books

ISBN: 0739174371

Category: Philosophy

Page: 484

View: 2515

Pairing scientists and philosophers together, this book is an exploration of some of the new frontiers in biology (e.g., Emergence, Complex Systems, Biosemiotics, Symbiogenesis, Organic Selection, Epigenetics, Niche Construction, Teleodynamics, etc.). The chapters in this volume challenge the mechanistic metaphysic that is implicit in the reigning neo-Darwinist paradigm, point to more inclusive modes of thinking in relation to the nature of life, and contribute to the novel synthesis that is presently “in the air.”

Biocode

The New Age of Genomics

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Author: Dawn Field,Neil Davies

Publisher: OUP Oxford

ISBN: 0191511579

Category: Science

Page: 288

View: 9157

The living world runs on genomic software - what Dawn Field and Neil Davies call the 'biocode' - the sum of all DNA on Earth. In Biocode, they tell the story of a new age of scientific discovery: the growing global effort to read and map the biocode, and what that might mean for the future. The structure of DNA was identified in 1953, and the whole human genome was mapped by 2003. Since then the new field of genomics has mushroomed and is now operating on an industrial scale. Genomes can now be sequenced rapidly and increasingly cheaply. The genomes of large numbers of organisms from mammals to microbes, have been mapped. Getting your genome sequenced is becoming affordable for many. You too can check paternity, find out where your ancestors came from, or whether you are at risk of some diseases. Some check out the pedigree of their pets, while others turn genomes into art. A stray hair is enough to crudely reconstruct the face of the owner. From reading to constructing: the first steps to creating artificial life have already been taken. Some may find the rapidity of developments, and the potential for misuse, alarming. But they also open up unprecedented possibilities. The ability to read DNA has changed how we view ourselves and understand our place in nature. From the largest oceans, to the insides of our guts, we are able to explore the biosphere as never before, from the genome up. Sequencing technology has made the invisible world of microbes visible, and biodiversity genomics is revealing whole new worlds within us and without. The findings are transformational: we are all ecosystems now. Already the first efforts at 'barcoding' entire ecological communities and creating 'genomic observatories' have begun. The future, the authors argue, will involve biocoding the entire planet.

Gender and Genes

Yearbook for Women’s History (Jaarboek voor Vrouwengeschiedenis) 33

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Author: Klasien Horstman,Marli Huijer

Publisher: Uitgeverij Verloren

ISBN: 9087043945

Category: Genetics

Page: 168

View: 8262

This Yearbook of Women's History (Jaarboek voor Vrouwengeschiedenis) is dedicated to Gender and Genes. Intruding upon our everyday lives, the world of DNA, genes and genomics has become a challenging field of research, both clinical and biomedical as well as socio-cultural. It is also a challenging topic for a Yearbook which traditionally focuses on women and gender from a historical point of view. Gender issues are part and parcel of genes and genomics in scientific research and socio-cultural discourses and representations. Current literature on genes and genomics does not abound in analyses of biomedical and socio-cultural realms where gender aspects are played out and exchanged. This Yearbookmay thus contribute to a field of analysis which contextualizes history from the viewpoint of current biotechnological developments. This volume contains articles on medical cases (reproductive testing and the case of the sex chromosomes, and framing cancer risk in women and men), cultural representations, a portrait of female scientist Rosalin Franklin and interviews with feminist science philosophers Katarina Karkazis and Donna Dickenson.

Me Medicine vs. We Medicine

Reclaiming Biotechnology for the Common Good

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Author: Donna Dickenson

Publisher: Columbia University Press

ISBN: 0231534418

Category: Medical

Page: 296

View: 825

Personalized healthcare—or what the award-winning author Donna Dickenson calls "Me Medicine"—is radically transforming our longstanding "one-size-fits-all" model. Technologies such as direct-to-consumer genetic testing, pharmacogenetically developed therapies in cancer care, private umbilical cord blood banking, and neurocognitive enhancement claim to cater to an individual's specific biological character, and, in some cases, these technologies have shown powerful potential. Yet in others they have produced negligible or even negative results. Whatever is behind the rise of Me Medicine, it isn't just science. So why is Me Medicine rapidly edging out We Medicine, and how has our commitment to our collective health suffered as a result? In her cogent, provocative analysis, Dickenson examines the economic and political factors fueling the Me Medicine phenomenon and explores how, over time, this paradigm shift in how we approach our health might damage our individual and collective well-being. Historically, the measures of "We Medicine," such as vaccination and investment in public-health infrastructure, have radically extended our life spans, and Dickenson argues we've lost sight of that truth in our enthusiasm for "Me Medicine." Dickenson explores how personalized medicine illustrates capitalism's protean capacity for creating new products and markets where none existed before—and how this, rather than scientific plausibility, goes a long way toward explaining private umbilical cord blood banks and retail genetics. Drawing on the latest findings from leading scientists, social scientists, and political analysts, she critically examines four possible hypotheses driving our Me Medicine moment: a growing sense of threat; a wave of patient narcissism; corporate interests driving new niche markets; and the dominance of personal choice as a cultural value. She concludes with insights from political theory that emphasize a conception of the commons and the steps we can take to restore its value to modern biotechnology.

Oxford Textbook of Cancer Biology

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Author: Francesco Pezzella,Mahvash Tavassoli,David J. Kerr

Publisher: Oxford University Press

ISBN: 0191084875

Category: Medical

Page: 496

View: 3713

The study of the biology of tumours has grown to become markedly interdisciplinary, involving chemists, statisticians, epidemiologists, mathematicians, bioinformaticians, and computer scientists alongside biologists, geneticists, and clinicians. The Oxford Textbook of Cancer Biology brings together the most up-to-date developments from different branches of research into one coherent volume, providing a comprehensive and current account of this rapidly evolving field. Structured in eight sections, the book starts with a review of the development and biology of multi-cellular organisms, how they maintain a healthy homeostasis in an individual, and a description of the molecular basis of cancer development. The book then illustrates, as once cells become neoplastic, their signalling network is altered and pathological behaviour follows. It explores the changes that cancer cells can induce in nearby normal tissue, the new relationship established between them and the stroma, and the interaction between the immune system and tumour growth. The authors illustrate the contribution provided by high throughput techniques to map cancer at different levels, from genomic sequencing to cellular metabolic functions, and how information technology, with its vast amounts of data, is integrated with traditional cell biology to provide a global view of the disease. The effect of the different types of treatments on the biology of the neoplastic cells are explored to understand on the one side, why some treatments succeed, and on the other, how they can affect the biology of resistant and recurrent disease. The book concludes by summarizing what we know to date about cancer, and in what direction our understanding of cancer is moving. Edited by leading authorities in the field with an international team of contributors, this book is an essential resource for scholars and professionals working in the wide variety of sub-disciplines that make up today's cancer research and treatment community. It is written not only for consultation, but also for easy cover-to-cover reading.