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The Genomics Age How DNA Technology Is Transforming the Way We Live and Who We Are - Gina Smith

Contents


1 It’s Who You Are 9
You need to understand some basic terms and ideas to make sense of
the DNA sciences. Don’t know a gene from a chromosome? This is the
place to start.
2 How We Got Here 27
Fifty years after Watson and Crick discovered the DNA double helix, the
Human Genome Project announced the final version of the human
genome. How did we get here from there? Here’s an inside look at how
one of the biggest discoveries in the history of mankind came about.
3 Your Genome—An Owner’s Manual 55
You are of the first generation in the history of the human race to
understand what makes you . . . well, you. The fascinating discoveries
scientists have made about DNA could change your life, your health,
and society.
4 The DNA Files 69
The most important advance to come out of his work, says DNA double
helix discoverer James Watson, is the exoneration of death row
inmates. DNA fingerprinting has revolutionized crime solving, and is
helping historians solve centuries-old mysteries.

5 Fa incg Destiny 87
It would’ve seemed like science fiction just a few decades ago, but
today genetic testing can predict susceptibility for hundreds of disorders.
Who are the innovators? What tests are out there? Will government
permit insurance companies and employers to discriminate
using the new knowledge? Genetic testing, in plain English.
6 The Fountain of Aging Well 113
It is one of DNA science’s most exciting fields. Biogerontology. A San
Francisco scientist has increased a worm’s lifespan sixfold! Two
gerontologists are betting a half-billion dollars that in 2150, at least
one person alive today will still be alive! Meanwhile, companies vie to
create a pill that will help tomorrow’s baby-boomer senior citizens
seem decades younger than their years.
7 Closing in on Cancer 133
In the 1970s, Nixon declared war on cancer. This was back when doctors
thought it was a single disease. By the mid-1990s, most scientists
had lost hope, and cancer deaths were at an all-time high. Now, for the
first time, the majority of cancer specialists have renewed faith that,
thanks to the DNA sciences, most cancers will be cured—in the next
twenty years. Here are the players and the technologies.
8 Cloning and Stem Cells 157
It doesn’t get more controversial than this. Despite calls for a global ban
on cloning—both the kind that produces “mini me” humans and the kind
that yields potentially life-saving stem cells—the world’s scientific community
is pushing hard to keep stem cell work alive, saying it’s our best
hope of curing most of the degenerative diseases that kill people today.
Here is an inside look at the players, and the arguments from both sides.
9 Gene Therapy 173
Gene therapy—or actually modifying defective genes in patients to
cure them—was once the holy grail of DNA medicine. Then came setbacks—
a teenager dies in a gene therapy trial and several French children
get leukemia—and everything changed. Now gene therapy
experts are trying to fight their way back to the forefront with a long
list of therapies and cutting-edge trials in labs around the country.

10 DNA and Society 193
When most people hear the word eugenics, they think of the Nazis’
attempt in the 1930s and 1940s to murder their way to an Aryan
Germany. But few people know that eugenics—the pseudoscience of
genetically breeding humans—was first popularized decades earlier in
America. Eugenics was the first societal effort to manipulate genetics.
Should we fear that a new eugenics is in the offing? What are the
ethical issues as the DNA sciences barrel into the future?
Notes 211
Glossary 225
Every word you’ll ever need to know to keep up with DNA researchers
and companies in the news, for investing and making societal and personal
choices.
Index 255

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