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Book cover of Commotion in the Blood: Life, Death and the Immune System

Commotion in the Blood: Life, Death and the Immune System

by Stephen S. Hall

Publisher: DIANE Publishing Company
ISBN: 9780788160431

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Synopsis of Commotion in the Blood: Life, Death and the Immune System

Beginning with the "occasional miracles" of a mysterious turn-of-the-century cancer vaccine called Coley's toxins, Stephen S. Hall traces the story of how doctors have learned to harness the immune system and its "commotions" to develop a wide array of cutting-edge therapies. Moving deftly between laboratory and bedside, Hall's absorbing narrative navigates the politics of discovery and elucidates the dazzling complexities of the microscope slide, tracking the curiously potent cells and molecules at the heart of the immune response. From the author of "the best book written about the new age of biology" (Nobel laureate Philip Sharp), who "succeeds marvelously in making science accessible to the general reader," (New York Times), this fast-paced account of medicine in the making is part of the Sloan Foundation Technology Book series.

Publishers Weekly

While guiding readers through a century of immunological breakthroughs related to the treatment of cancer, Hall (Mapping the Next Millennium) focuses on the high stakes, big money and oversized egos of the last 30 years. He details the pressures these scientist-doctors are under from constantly treating terminally ill patients, competing to be the one to make the next major research breakthrough or attempting to convince a governmental panel to permit the next experiment to be performed. The descriptions of their actual work, while comprehensive and clear, are not for the casual reader; technical details abound, making it easy to confuse interferon with interleukin or a "monoclonal anti-idiotype antibody" with an antigen. More effective is Hall's characterization of the role the media and the drug companies play in manipulating the research agenda. Too much attention focused too early on a potentially productive treatment, he says, has repeatedly created false expectations and influenced the flow of research money. Drug companies have, he claims, ignored certain successful forms of therapy because the profit margins have not been large enough. This is an impressive, if not entirely successful, look at scientists' understanding of the immune system, and at the marketing culture that now surrounds it.

About the Author, Stephen S. Hall

Stephen S. Hall is the author of the critically acclaimed Invisible Frontiers and Mapping the Next Millenium and has written for Science and Health. He lives in Brooklyn, New York, with his wife and daughter.

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