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Home » Books » Science » Medicine » General

The Pathological Protein

Mad Cow, Chronic Wasting, and Other Deadly Prion Diseases

By Philip Yam

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Format: Paperback, 286 pages, Softcover reprint of Edition
Other Information: Illustrated
Published In: Netherlands, 01 March 2013
Prions are an entirely new class of pathogens, and scientists are just beginning to understand them. Although they have plagued humans and animals for 3 centuries, only in the last 2 decades have researchers linked them to diseases like Mad Cow. This book tells the strange story of their discovery, and the medical controversies that swirl around them. The author, Philip Yam, is a well-respected and connected journalist who is now an editor at Scientific American.

Table of Contents

1. A Death in Devizes 2. Possessed 3. The Cannibal Disease 4. Neuro-Invasion 5. On the Trail of a Killer 6. Straining the Hypoothesis 7. Consuming Fears 8. The Human Toll 9. Blood Simple 10. Can It Happen Here?

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From the reviews: "The book is written for a general audience and is not necessarily targeted specifically to those in the medical field, according to the author. ... This is an excellent book for the person who has a broad interest in prion diseases. It is well written and informative. I was impressed with the quality of the book and how easy it is to read. ... I would recommend it to both physicians and lay people." (Leah D. Kroger,, February, 2004) "Scientists still have more questions than answers about BSE, vCJD and the related scourges which make up the transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs). Philip Yam's book, `The Pathological Protein', does an admirable job of exploring them. ... is full of such sensible observations, a welcome novelty in discussions on this fraught topic. The author is particularly good at explaining the complex and controversial science behind TSEs, as well as the prospects for better diagnosis and treatment ... ." (The Economist -online, March, 2004) "Philip Yam, Scientific American writer and editor, has a knack for boiling down complex science and making it palatable to the general public. Yam demonstrates his skills in an important new book, The Pathological Protein. ... His treatment is thorough, entertaining, and honest. ... This is definitely a book for decision-makers to read and underline. ... it is a sourcebook of extremely valuable information about TSEs and a guide to some very suspect areas of farming and meat producing." (James A. Swan, National Review Online,, August, 2003) "Yam, a writer and editor for Scientific American since 1989, presents a detailed yet readable history of the mad cow scare and other prion diseases that affect humans and animals, such as scrapie. ... Yam gives more coverage to the U.S. reactions to BSE and delves into the problems of chronic wasting disease (CWD) in elk and deer in North America and the research on other prion diseases like fatal familial insomnia (FFI). Recommended for most science collections." (Margaret Henderson, Library Journal, June, 2003) "Yam, who has written and edited for the Scientific American has a singularly easy style to read and the story that he tells is of how the family in Devizes in England first found their son had variant CJD. ... He writes this for a wide audience with it being interesting for everyone from the scientists to the average reader and he includes large amounts of information ... . A book aimed at a very wide audience but scientifically involving." (Stephen Dealler,, August, 2003) "When bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) first appeared in 1986 in the UK, many of the worries focused on the country's agricultural industry ... . Much of the literature on the subject tells the story of how we gradually realized that maybe humans were at risk ... . In his well-written and easy-to-understand book `The Pathological Protein ... Philip Yam paints a different picture. ... Anyone who reads Yam's excellent book will understand how data on TSEs were in fact readily accessible during the past 20years." (Stephen F. Dealler, C&EN - Chemical & Engineering News, November, 2003) "It is indisputable that interest in the rare and unusual greatly exceeds that given to the common and mundane. The appearance of yet another book on transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs) should not therefore be surprising ... . All this suggests that writing a book about TSEs should be easy. How was it for Philip Yam? In The Pathological Protein ... he does a good job. ... his accounts of technical matters are reader-friendly, but do not dumb down. ... It is comprehensive, well researched and well referenced." (Hugh Pennington, Times Higher Education Supplement, December, 2003)

EAN: 9781475788198
ISBN: 1475788193
Publisher: Copernicus Books
Dimensions: 23.5 x 15.5 x 1.7 centimetres (0.44 kg)
Age Range: 15+ years
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