Jebelli analyzes every facet of Alzheimer’s with personal empathy and scientific rigor, a combination that makes for...

IN PURSUIT OF MEMORY

THE FIGHT AGAINST ALZHEIMER'S

Alzheimer’s disease has stymied attempts at a cure for generations, but exciting advances in biomedical technologies have yielded new understanding of why the disease occurs and how to eradicate it.

By conservative estimates, Alzheimer’s affects 47 million people worldwide, yet its pathology remains largely unknown. Jebelli, who was inspired to become a neuroscientist after his grandfather was afflicted, tells the story of the disease’s devastating impact through the voices of patients and their families. He further unpacks the evolving scientific understanding of the disease by traveling the globe to interview the intrepid researchers who have dedicated their careers to Alzheimer's, attempting to characterize its causes and symptoms in order to devise effective treatment options. While it has long been understood that abnormal “plaques” and “tangles” in the brain erode neuronal function, resulting in progressive dementia, why these abnormalities occur remains mysterious. Also opaque is how to prevent them, even as diagnostic techniques grow more sophisticated, identifying biomarkers and other signs of the disease sometimes years before the onset of symptoms. Yet biomedical innovations such as stem cell engineering and Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats offer real hope that a means to reverse symptoms or eliminate the disease may be within reach. Intriguing, as well, are the clinical trials that suggest certain lifestyle changes—the familiar trio of diet, exercise, and mental engagement—may be our best bet at wholesale prevention. An elegant and precise writer, the author follows every lead for a cure with the panache of a detective novelist, giving readers much to hope for despite the devastation Alzheimer’s has left in its wake. Based on his meticulous and wide-ranging research, he makes a convincing argument that Alzheimer’s will be defeated in the decades to come.

Jebelli analyzes every facet of Alzheimer’s with personal empathy and scientific rigor, a combination that makes for enthralling reading.

Pub Date: Oct. 31, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-316-36079-1

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Aug. 21, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2017

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Skloot's meticulous, riveting account strikes a humanistic balance between sociological history, venerable portraiture and...

THE IMMORTAL LIFE OF HENRIETTA LACKS

A dense, absorbing investigation into the medical community's exploitation of a dying woman and her family's struggle to salvage truth and dignity decades later.

In a well-paced, vibrant narrative, Popular Science contributor and Culture Dish blogger Skloot (Creative Writing/Univ. of Memphis) demonstrates that for every human cell put under a microscope, a complex life story is inexorably attached, to which doctors, researchers and laboratories have often been woefully insensitive and unaccountable. In 1951, Henrietta Lacks, an African-American mother of five, was diagnosed with what proved to be a fatal form of cervical cancer. At Johns Hopkins, the doctors harvested cells from her cervix without her permission and distributed them to labs around the globe, where they were multiplied and used for a diverse array of treatments. Known as HeLa cells, they became one of the world's most ubiquitous sources for medical research of everything from hormones, steroids and vitamins to gene mapping, in vitro fertilization, even the polio vaccine—all without the knowledge, must less consent, of the Lacks family. Skloot spent a decade interviewing every relative of Lacks she could find, excavating difficult memories and long-simmering outrage that had lay dormant since their loved one's sorrowful demise. Equal parts intimate biography and brutal clinical reportage, Skloot's graceful narrative adeptly navigates the wrenching Lack family recollections and the sobering, overarching realities of poverty and pre–civil-rights racism. The author's style is matched by a methodical scientific rigor and manifest expertise in the field.

Skloot's meticulous, riveting account strikes a humanistic balance between sociological history, venerable portraiture and Petri dish politics.

Pub Date: Feb. 9, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-4000-5217-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2010

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Useful but disappointingly commonplace tips.

A SHORT GUIDE TO A LONG LIFE

In a follow-up to The End of Illness (2012), which explored how technological advances will transform medicine, Agus (Medicine and Engineering/Univ. of Southern California) restates time-tested but too often overlooked principles for healthy living.

The author outlines simple measures that average citizens can take to live healthier lives and extend their life spans by taking advantage of modern technology to develop personalized records. These would include a list of medical tests and recommended treatments. Agus also suggests keeping track of indicators that can be observed at home on a regular basis—e.g., changes in energy, weight, appetite and blood pressure, blood sugar and general appearance. He advises that all of this information be made available online, and it is also helpful to investigate family history and consider DNA testing where indicated. Along with maintaining a healthy weight, Agus emphasizes the importance of eating a balanced diet, with plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables and a minimum of red meat. Avoid packaged vitamins and food supplements, and if possible, grow your own vegetables or buy frozen vegetables, which will generally be fresher than those on supermarket shelves. The author also warns against processed foods that make health claims but contain additives or excessive amounts of sugar or fat. Regular mealtimes and plenty of sleep, frequent hand-washing and oral hygiene are a must; smoking and excessive time in the sun should also be avoided. Agus recommends that adults should consider taking statins and baby aspirin as preventative measures. He concludes with a decade-by-decade checklist of annual medical examinations that should be routine—e.g. blood pressure, diabetes and cholesterol screenings, from one’s 20s on; colonoscopies, prostate exams and mammograms later—and a variety of top-10 lists (for example, “Top 10 Reasons to Take a Walk”).

Useful but disappointingly commonplace tips.

Pub Date: Jan. 7, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4767-3095-0

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Oct. 1, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2013

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