Author: Robin L. Smith
Published: 24 October 2017 by BenBella Books
Personal Context: NetGalley provided me with an e-ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.
“We are on the precipice of a revolution in medicine. Cell therapies represent a new frontier, harnessing the power of our own biology as the new “drugs” that will not merely treat disease but actually cure disease.”
In more than 35,000 clinical trials, doctors have made leaps and bounds, challenging the foundation of treatment for debilitating autoimmune diseases, deadly cancers, and even aging itself. These life-saving treatments–at first glance–look more like science-fiction, but many are reaching the final stages of their clinical trials and will reach widespread use in the near future.
The studies in development are evidence that the secret to curing disease may not be a new compound or surgical technique, but harnessing the power that lies within our own biology, our own cells. This book will provide an introduction to the recent medical breakthroughs in regenerative medicine, immunotherapy, and targeted gene editing. The information contained within this book could one day save your life, or the life of someone you love.
My Review of…
While earning my B.S. in Microbiology, I took several courses in biochemistry, molecular and cellular biology, and biotechnology. So naturally, I had a great deal of interest in the topics discussed in this book. Not gonna lie, I nerded out so hard during so much of this book. To hear about these completely revolutionary therapies completely curing people afflicted with debilitating, and even life-threatening–conditions was nothing short of awe-inspiring.
Dr. Smith does an incredible job of writing a book centered around incredibly complex topics without rendering it unintelligible to the non-scientist. Pairing technical jargon with relatable analogies makes up the genius of Smith’s approach. Able to explain esoteric cellular processes with a simplicity that is simultaneously understandable and accurate.
This book provides an excellent introduction to the revolutionary advances in regenerative medicine, immunotherapy, and gene editing. The use of stem cells to promote healing and regenerate damaged tissues has the potential to truly cure debilitating autoimmune diseases like type 1 diabetes and MS. Ground-breaking work in immunotherapy uses the patient’s own immune system to target and eradicate their cancer. Combined with CRISPR technology, a powerful gene-editing tool, cancer vaccines can defend and prevent cancer long before it can ever begin.
As this field is still very much in its infancy, it is hard to gather all the knowledge in one place. Books like this should be seen as part of a living, breathing body of knowledge that will grow, evolve, and be reborn. What will never change, however, is the measured yet relentless optimism these pages bring.
-Sanjay Gupta, MD (March 2017)
So it’s been brought to my attention that my three-star rating doesn’t really reciprocate the overall positive tone of my review, so I am going to endeavor to explain.
So my review reflects my own personal experience with the book before, during, and after I finished reading it. After I completed my review, I went back to NetGalley and Goodreads and read some of the reviews there to get a sense of how my rating coincided with others who also read the book. I found that many others who read the book (who didn’t have the same background that I have) did not find Smith’s explanations as clear as I did. So in an effort to call out my own bias, I lowered my rating from four to three stars. I hope that makes my three-star rating more justified. 🙂