LIFE FOR SALE by Sharon & Kathleen McAuliffe McAuliffe


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The audience for this wide-sweeping survey of DNA technology may not be the disinterested layman as much as the interested investor wondering where the next biomolecular breakthrough will come from. Omni magazine writers Sharon and Kathleen McAuliffe display a fine business hand as they steer the reader through the paths of molecular biology, describing the birth and burgeoning of Genentech, Cetus, Genex, and Biogen--to name just four of what might appropriately be called a new breed of companies. With the Supreme Court's' decision that new life forms can be patented, the future is distinctly bullish. (Especially for patent attorneys.) Needless to say, the ""business"" of DNA is stirring disquiet--not only among the vitalist fringe, but among academicians concerned with a free exchange in the marketplace of ideas. Some, however, argue that scientists have long played their cards close to the chest. The urge to patent may make this more overt, and the participants more covert; but once patents are granted, the information pool would be freed up again. The authors weave their entrepreneurian thread through a series of long chapters describing the progress and potential in using recombinant and cell fusion techniques to produce new drugs, new plant forms, new chemicals, and natural compounds in the body. Much of this comes flying at the reader thick and fast and breathy, with the facts highly condensed. A little countervailing caution--on just how effective (and safe) some of the new products may be, on quality-control, new mutants, etc.--would have been more seemly. But for a whirlwind tour from the double helix to double-entry bookkeeping: fair enough.

Pub Date: Oct. 23rd, 1981
Publisher: Coward, McCann & Geoghegan