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Download The Philadelphia Chromosome: A Mutant Gene and the Quest to Cure Cancer at the Genetic Level Audiobook

Extended Audio Sample The Philadelphia Chromosome: A Mutant Gene and the Quest to Cure Cancer at the Genetic Level, by Jessica Wapner Click for printable size audiobook cover
0 out of 50 out of 50 out of 50 out of 50 out of 5 0.00 (0 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Jessica Wapner Narrator: Heather Henderson Publisher: Highbridge Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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Philadelphia, 1959. A scientist scrutinizing a single human cell under a microscope detects a missing piece of DNA. That scientist, David Hungerford, had no way of knowing that he had stumbled upon the starting point of modern cancer research—the Philadelphia chromosome. This book charts not only that landmark discovery, but also—for the first time, all in one place—the full sequence of scientific and medical discoveries that brought about the first-ever successful treatment of a lethal cancer at the genetic level.

The significance of this mutant chromosome would take more than three decades to unravel; in 1990, it was recognized as the sole cause of a deadly blood cancer, chronic myeloid leukemia, or CML. This dramatic discovery launched a race involving doctors and researchers around the world, who recognized that it might be possible to target CML at its genetic source.

Science journalist Jessica Wapner brings extensive original reporting to this book, including interviews with more than thirty-five people with a direct role in this story. Wapner reconstructs more than forty years of crucial breakthroughs, clearly explains the science behind them, and pays tribute to the dozens of researchers, doctors, and patients whose curiosity and determination restored the promise of a future to the 70,000 people worldwide who are diagnosed with CML each year. Chief among them is researcher and oncologist Dr. Brian Druker, whose dedication to his patients fueled his quest to do everything within his power to save them.

The Philadelphia Chromosome helps us fully appreciate just how ground-breaking, hard-won, and consequential these achievements are—and understand the principles behind today’s most important cancer research.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “The  story of the Philadelphia chromosome is truly the story of modern cancer  biology…Jessica Wapner stitches the whole story together with tenacity, diligence (and humor). This is a wonderful, readable, and highly informative book.”

    Siddhartha Mukherjee, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of The Emperor of All Maladies

  • “Jessica Wapner has done two kinds of hard work gracefully: the hard work of understanding cancer genetics and the hard work of rendering that subject into human narrative, lucid explanation, and metaphor. The Philadelphia Chromosome is not just an urgently useful book. It’s also an elegant one, put together like a Swiss watch.”

    David Quammen, New York Times bestselling author of Spillover

  • “Clearly explains how a half-century’s worth of research transformed a viciously lethal form of cancer into a chronic, treatable condition. Jessica Wapner’s meticulously researched book is both a real-life medical thriller and an engaging narrative about the history of modern cancer research.”

    Seth Mnookin, New York Times bestselling author of Feeding the Monster

  • “The way Wapner repeatedly adds up preceding steps to build to the scientific breakthrough is masterful, making for compulsive, surprisingly emotional reading."


  • “As science writer Jessica Wapner reveals in this taut, elegant study, a cascade of breakthroughs then led to success with targeted drug Gleevec, a tyrosine kinase inhibitor—and hopes for the cancer-busting potential of rational drug design in general.”


  • “[Wapner’s] gracefully written history skillfully combines both the science and humanity of this fascinating search for a cure for CML.”

    Publishers Weekly

  • “An excellent book for those who want to learn more about how medical discoveries are made and those interested in recent medical history, as well as those whose lives are affected by CML.”

    Library Journal

  • “An absorbing, complex medical detective story.”

    Kirkus Reviews

  • “Beautifully written…a blueprint for broader healthcare change. A pivotal book.”

    David B. Agus, MD, professor of medicine and engineering, University of Southern California, and author of The End of Illness

  • A Publishers Weekly Top 10 Book, Spring 2013
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About the Author

Jessica Wapner’s science writing has appeared in Scientific AmericanSlate, the New York TimesNew YorkScienceNature MedicineEcologistScientist, and Psychology Today. Her writing on cancer has been published in patient-focused magazines like CR and Cure as well as Oncology Business Review. She lives in Beacon, New York, with her husband and children.