Junk DNA: A Journey Through the Dark Matter of the Genome

Nessa Carey. Columbia Univ, $29.95 (224p) ISBN 978-0-231-17084-0
Carey (The Epigenetics Revolution), a visiting professor at Imperial College, London, explores the latest in genomics research and describes, in prose that is for the most part accessible to nonscientists, the complexities of how scientists currently believe the genome works. Two surprising outcomes of the Human Genome Project were the discoveries that humans have only approximately 24,000 functional genes, “pretty much the same quantity as simple microscopic worms,” and that over 98% of the DNA in human cells is “junk,” long stretches that can’t be translated into any proteins. Only recently have scientists began to study this junk, but even at this early stage of understanding, Carey demonstrates that we now know some of the junk DNA may well be partly responsible for terribly debilitating and, to date, intractable disorders such as Duchenne muscular dystrophy, various cancers, and Alzheimer’s disease. She also discusses potential breakthrough drug therapies designed to make use of our growing knowledge of junk DNA to ameliorate or cure some of these devastating conditions. Carey makes two points very clearly: that our understanding is tentative and evolving, and that chromosomal functioning is far more intricate than anyone ever hypothesized. Agent: Andrew Lownie, Andrew Lownie Literary Agency. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 02/09/2015
Release date: 03/01/2015
Genre: Nonfiction
Ebook - 458 pages - 978-1-84831-827-4
Paperback - 360 pages - 978-0-231-17085-7
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