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

Jessica Wapner, Author
Jessica Wapner. The Experiment (Workman, dist.), $25.95 (320p) ISBN 978-1-61519-067-6
Reviewed on: 02/11/2013
Release date: 05/01/2013
Ebook - 328 pages - 978-1-61519-165-9
Compact Disc - 585 pages - 978-1-62231-177-4
Paperback - 317 pages - 978-1-61519-197-0
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In this meticulously detailed chronicle, science writer Wapner recaps the remarkable development of Gleevec, a cutting-edge drug capable of beating the typically fatal cancer of white blood cells known as chronic myeloid leukemia (CML). But the story of Gleevec’s progress also illuminates how a “minute chromosome”—discovered in Philadelphia in 1959—led scientists on a journey to the genetic roots of cancer and “the modern era of personalized medicine.” Gleevec’s triumph—a 2012 study conducted of patients who had taken the drug 10 years ago showed a 68% survival rate—ultimately overcame the daunting unwillingness of Big Pharma and oncologists to accept a lab-synthesized “molecularly targeted medicine.” “In eighteen years,” Wapner writes, “a vision had been wrestled into reality.” Her gracefully written history skillfully combines both the science and humanity of this fascinating search for a cure for CML, including the heartbreaks of Gleevec-pioneering M.D. Brian Druker, thwarted efforts to get the drug into trials, jealousies between scientists, the love story of a reporter and Druker, and the compelling accounts of the patients themselves, who bravely tested the drug and ultimately reclaimed their lives. 8-page photo insert. Agent: Russell Galen, Scovil Galen Ghosh Literary Agency. (May 13)
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