cover image A Dancing Matrix: Voyages Along the Viral Frontier

A Dancing Matrix: Voyages Along the Viral Frontier

Robin Marantz Henig. Knopf Publishing Group, $23 (269pp) ISBN 978-0-394-58878-0

In an exciting foray along the frontiers of viral research, Henig ( The Myth of Senility ) explores how and when viruses jump from one species to another. She reviews conficting theories about the origins of the AIDS epidemic and surveys deadly viral outbreaks among dolphins, seals, cattle and sea urchins. Noting that many virologists expect the next major epidemic to be a rampant strain of the fast-mutating influenza virus, Henig calls for the creation of a global early-warning system, featuring ``sentinel animals'' or virus-tracking centers, to avert catastrophe. She also scans advances in gene therapy (which uses viruses to insert genes into malfunctioning cells) and investigates the possibility that chronic viral infections may underlie certain kinds of growth retardation, diabetes, neuropsychiatric disorders and heart disease. (Feb.)