Every person's DNA contains p53, a gene which protects us from cancer. p53 constantly scans our cells to ensure that when they grow and divide as part of the routine maintenance of our bodies, they do so without mishap. If a cell makes a mistake in copying its DNA during the process, p53 repairs it before allowing the cell to carry on dividing. If the mistake is irreparable and the rogue cell threatens to grow out of control (as happens in cancer), p53 commands the cell to commit suicide. Cancer cannot develop unless p53 itself is damaged or handicapped by some other fault in the system. Not surprisingly, p53 is the most studied single gene in history.
p53: The Gene that Cracked the Cancer Code tells the story of the discovery of the gene and of medical science's mission to unravel its mysteries and get to the heart of what happens in our cells when they turn cancerous. Through the personal accounts of key researchers, the book reveals the excitement of the hunt for new cures—the lost opportunities, the blind alleys, and the thrilling breakthroughs. As the long-anticipated revolution in cancer treatment tailored to each individual patient's symptoms starts to take off at last, p53 is at the cutting edge. This is a timely tale of scientific discovery and advances in our understanding of a disease that still affects more than one in three of us at some point in our lives.
“It's not the destination that's important here, but the journey. This is not only a story about the gene on chromosome 17, nor only about the nature of cancer, but also about how science works.”—The Boston Globe
“Ms. Armstrong's book comes alive in the sections where she explores cancer's human toll . . . She also captures the excitement of researchers as they come upon eureka moments.”—The Wall Street Journal
“A brilliant narrative that captures the essence of the scientific challenges faced by researchers in this pursuit and the progress that has been made in our understanding of p53.”—Science
“She covers every aspect of cancer development, giving us a sense of how this evasive illness persists, even in the face of modern medicine . . . It is with hope and hard work that we can look to the future with optimism.”—San Francisco Book Review