Clinical biochemistry

Clinical biochemistry

Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Education 28 (2000) 345}347 Book reviews Immunology, a short course E. Benjamini, R. Coico and G. Sunshine; 4th Ed...

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Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Education 28 (2000) 345}347

Book reviews Immunology, a short course E. Benjamini, R. Coico and G. Sunshine; 4th Edition, Wiley}Liss, New York, 2000, 498 pp., ISBN 0-471-34890-2 The immune system comprises a series of innate (nonspeci"c) and acquired (highly speci"c) mechanisms which are closely integrated and geared to protect us against the continual intrusions to which we are subjected to from the environment (e.g., of infectious microorganisms, their products, and other foreign and usually toxic materials). Although it usually performs its protective function, it may also be the cause of many common discomforts and not so common but severe diseases. It is the major hurdle to be overcome in e!ective tissue transplantations. Immunology, the study of this system, has become extraordinarily rich in detail (as many chapters in this book attest) particularly in the past 40 or so years. Paradoxically, this has been largely the cause and e!ect of the enormous successes that have been achieved in the transplantation of major tissues and organs (e.g., kidneys, heart, lungs, liver, bone marrow). Besides, the appearance of the epidemic of acquired immunode"ciency syndrome (AIDS), which continues to spread around the world and is having such devastating e!ects in many parts of Africa and South East Asia, has boosted research particularly in e!orts to provide e!ective therapy. Besides the three authors on the book cover, four more have made a signi"cant contribution in the form of a chapter each. This is, therefore, essentially a multiauthor text. Between them they have produced a useful , coherent, and an up-to-date presentation of a subject of great interest to medical students and many sections of the medical profession. Their book should help prepare these for the onrushing wave of progress in this subject which will inevitably follow completion of the Human Genome Project. There are 21 chapters (varying from 16 to 34 pages in length). The shortest is that on Immunogens and Antigens, the longest on Resistance and Immunization to Infectious Diseases. Each chapter provides some historical background and is completed by a summary (in numbered point form), a list of references (with a surprising number to publications that appeared in the latter part of the past decade), and between 6 and 11 multiple choice questions and detailed answers to them. There is also a case study at the end of each of 9 chapters, and a useful 22-page glossary and 18-page index. A prior knowledge of biochemistry and molecular biology, and of cell and microbiology, is presumed.

I was particularly impressed by the clarity of presentation throughout, but especially in Chapter 6 (on the Genetic Basis of Antibody Structure), Chapter 8 (on the Role of the Major Histocompatibility Complex in the Immune Response), Chapter 12 (on Cytokines), and the three consecutive chapters (14}16) on the four types of Hypersensitivity Reactions. In these, much detail is perfectly organized within a smooth #owing, easily comprehensible framework aided by impressively colourful and apposite illustrations. Two minor comments come to mind. First, why in a book loaded with acronyms is there no alphabetical listing of these, with their derivation, for easy reference? (In fairness, Table 12.1 does this for selected cytokines.) Second, why are there no de"nitions of (or any biochemical information on) words such as beta-lysin, lysozyme, polyamines, lactoferrin, and caspases, and phrases such as CC- and CXC chemokine receptors, where they are used for the "rst time? At a time when medical education boasts of integration (vertical, horizontal, whatever), this would have been a bonus, for which space could have been found by tighter editing. This book should prove very useful to all who are in need of an up to date but concise book on this fascinating and rapidly expanding molecular bioscience. F. Vella 18 Leyden Crescent Saskatoon, SK Canada S7J 2S4 E-mail address: [email protected] PII: S 1 4 7 0 - 8 1 7 5 ( 0 0 ) 0 0 0 3 2 - 1

Clinical biochemistry R. Luxton; Oxford: Butterworth ! Heinemann, 1999, 253 pp. ISBN 0-7506-2878-2 This is one of the series Biomedical Sciences Explained edited overall by Dr. C.J. Pallister. It is expressly designed for the beginner, and adopts the still unusual approach of laying down learning objectives at the beginning of each chapter. Each chapter, moreover, ends with a box citing `Key concepts and factsa as well as selfassessment questions and suggestions for further reading. Items thought to be of `humana or peripheral interest are emplaced in boxes; these include notes on historical advances and a few simple cases. As a rationalising concept,

1470-8175/01/$ - see front matter  2000 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved. PII: S 1 4 7 0 - 8 1 7 5 ( 0 0 ) 0 0 0 3 2 - 1


Book reviews / Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Education 28 (2000) 345}347

the discussion is channelled through six heads: Input, Control, Processing, Transport and Storage, Defence, and Output. This works well enabling, for example, a brief discussion of therapeutic drug monitoring under the "rst of these. This is a topic which in other texts is not readily "tted into a logical sequence. The illustrations are not numerous but are clear when presented. Elementary students tend to come to this subject believing it to be all about diagnosis, whereas the bulk of tests are done in relation to screening, management, and the monitoring of therapy, so it is "tting that the text does stress these important aspects. All in all it contains an astonishing amount of information in its 250 pages and can be highly recommended for beginners in clinical biochemistry. John Candish National University of Singapore, Republic of Singapore PII: S 1 4 7 0 - 8 1 7 5 ( 0 0 ) 0 0 0 1 0 - 2

Biochemistry A.C. Brownie and J.C. Kernohan; Churchill, Livingstone, 1999, pp. 288, ISBN 0-443-05693-5 This attractively produced and well-planned book is intended primarily for medical students. For most of these, "rst year biochemistry nowadays emphasizes integration, a systems and application-directed approach, and acquisition of principles and core knowledge as a foundation on to which more elaborate and detailed knowledge can be added. This core knowledge consists of basic and applied biochemistry largely from the perspective of cell biology, physiology, pathology and genetics with frequent reference to medical implications. Here, the `core texta of the subtitle amounts to about 160 pages (in 21 chapters) that are well written and profusely illustrated by e!ective and eye-catching line diagrams. The `self-assessmenta comprises some 77 pages of questions (with just over 170 multiple choices, 108 true/false, and 42 short essays) and their answers. Rather than summarily indicating the correct answers, these provide explicit factual statements and explanations which can be read on their own and therefore contribute an alternative teaching tool. The authors advise students to `read the appropriate section of the core text before attending lecturesa. While this is very good advice, in my experience few medical students anticipate classroom presentation of new knowledge in this way. Rather, the majority seem to prefer to learn and understand after the new knowledge has been presented to them by the subject specialist. Such students will "nd this core text useful in providing them with the fundamental principles and skeletal framework for un-

derstanding and retention of the more detailed material presented in class. It should prove very e!ective also for self-directed learning, except that no references (and therefore no guidance) are provided to more detailed presentations on particular topics. While the topics included have been judiciously selected, there is very little on cell biology and no reference to the molecular biology of cancer, subjects that have assumed such major signi"cance in the past two decades or so. This said, the chapters on Integration of Metabolism, The Biochemistry of the Endocrine System, and Biochemical Genetics and Inborn Errors of Metabolism stand out in several respects. I found a few minor irritants (relating to the structure of mammalian fatty acid synthetase on p. 122, the meaning of mononucleotide and trinucletotide on p. 156, the masses of ribosomal RNA species in eukaryotes on p. 178, and haptoglobin being frequently called haptoglobulin and transthyretin invariably called transerythrin on p. 252), but these do not detract signi"cantly from the task undertaken by the authors. This book is a superbly simple and enjoyable introduction to, or review of, many of the principles of the subject for medical and other students who usually receive one formal course in biochemistry (including molecular biology). F. Vella 18, Leyden Cresent, Saskatoon, SK, Canada S7J 2S4 E-mail address: [email protected] PII: S 1 4 7 0 - 8 1 7 5 ( 0 0 ) 0 0 0 1 9 - 9

Proteome Research:Two-dimensional gel electrophoresis and identi5cation methods, T Rabilloud (Ed.), Springer, Berlin, 2000, 248pp, ISBN 3-540-657924 The term &proteome' was introduced in 1995 to indicate the protein complement of the genome. This, of course, is a dynamic entity * and potentially one more interesting biologically and medically then the genome (which is essentially "xed) * because the protein content of a cell will vary with changes in its environment, its physiological state, health and disease, the administration of drugs, etc. This multi-author book gives an upto-date technical account of how one may investigate the proteome and contains 11 chapters on di!erent aspects of the subject. &Technical' means that full recipes are given for many of the procedures mentioned, but in fact what is really valuable is the dissection of the reasons for doing things in a particular way. Thus, when discussing twodimensional electrophoresis (Chapters 2}5), the science behind the methods and reagents to be used is described