All of us have lurking in our DNA a most remarkable gene. Its job is straightforward - to protect us from cancer. This gene - known simply as p53 - constantly scans our cells to ensure that they grow and divide without mishap, as part of the routine maintenance of our bodies. If a cell makes a mistake in copying its DNA as part of its process of division, p53 stops it in its tracks, sending in the repair team 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 and malfunctioning.
Not surprisingly, p53 is the most studied gene in history. This enormously important gene has teased the minds of some of the most colourful and ambitious scientists around the world. These characters populate Sue Armstrong's book p53: The Gene That Cracked the Cancer Code, the story of medical science's mission to unravel the mysteries of this gene and to get to the heart of what happens in our cells when they turn cancerous. p53: The Gene That Cracked the Cancer Code reveals the tale of the search for this gene, as well as the excitement of the hunt for new cures - the hype, 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 still at the forefront of the game. 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.
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