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Fatal Flaws: How a Misfolded Protein Baffled Scientists and Changed the Way We Look at the Brain [Kindle Edition]

Jay Ingram , Lin Tang

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"Fatal Flaws provides a fascinating insight into the twists and turns of this new science, highlighting the controversies that surrounded its emergence and the ways it turned the world of research into the causes of neurodegenerative disease inside out."-Lara Marks, author of Sexual Chemistry: A History of the Contraceptive Pill -- Lara Marks "No sterile account of white coated scientists, Ingram tells a 'who-dunnit' about one of the most fascinating and improbable tales of medical discovery that involves huge egos, petty quarrels, exotic terrain, governmental cover-ups and ritualized cannibalism."-Jonathan A. Edlow, MD, author of The Deadly Dinner Party and Other Medical Detective Stories -- Jonathan A. Edlow "Jay Ingram's engrossing book is unbeatable for a balanced understanding of how mad cow disease might relate to other brain ailments. It's clear and concerned but never needlessly alarming."-John Rennie, former editor of Scientific American -- John Rennie Won the Canadian Science Writers' Association Outstanding Canadian Science Book Award for general audience books published in 2012. -- Outstanding Canadian Science Award Canadian Science Writers' Association


Discovered and identified as the cause of mad cow disease only three decades ago, the prion is a protein molecule that, when misshapen in the brain, becomes fatal. Novel and controversial, prions have provoked a scientific revolution. They challenge the very foundations of biology: A disease-causing entity with no genetic material at all? A molecule capable of infecting, multiplying, and killing? This book recounts the birth of prion science and the imaginative detective work scientists have undertaken as they struggle to find the answers to devastating brain diseases from mad cow and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease to Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, Lou Gehrig’s, and others.
As in each of his best-selling books, Jay Ingram here makes complex scientific concepts accessible and shows how little-known events may have profound significance. He describes the development of prion science as a rough-and-tumble affair, with rivals, eccentrics, interfering governments, and brilliantly creative people all playing salient roles. Weaving biology, medicine, human tragedy, discovery, and bitter scientific competition into his account, he reveals the stunning potential of prion science, whose discoveries may unlock the answers to some of humankind’s most destructive diseases.


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Die hilfreichsten Kundenrezensionen auf (beta) 4.5 von 5 Sternen  13 Rezensionen
10 von 11 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen Great book, too bad about title 5. April 2013
Von Steve Jones - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
Excellent coverage of a serious emerging topic. As an outdoor writer struggling to understand CWD (Chronic Wasting Disease, a TSE specific to deer species), and how to communicate with the my readers about them, I have found Fatal Flaws to be an excellent resource.

Unfortunately with the title including nothing about the topic - the word "Prion" prion being absent from the title and subtitle, in fact occurring exactly zero times on the outside of the jacket - I worry that some people looking for information on the topic might miss it.
6 von 6 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen Important book about a complex problem that has broad implications 29. November 2013
Von John Matta - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Kindle Edition|Verifizierter Kauf
Great book, and easy to follow. It covers some complex science, but the author does a good job of introducing the concepts of protein chemistry ahead of time. This makes it easy to follow, and even a non-scientist can follow the lingo. The level is about that of a Scientific American article, but book-length. If you want to understand the background behind a very important medical problem (one that will be critical in the future), pick this book up.
4.0 von 5 Sternen If any of these categories fit, you MUST read this book: 23. September 2014
Von bowonwing - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe|Verifizierter Kauf
A good book on "The story of the revolutionary science that is unraveling the mysteries of mad cow and other fatal brain diseases." It also contains some interesting comments on Stanley Prusiner.

From "Chemical Evolution," (1991) by Stephen F. Mason: page 251- on prions "... the traditional prebiotic (the study of the chemical origins of living organisms) protein worlds retain their place, now as possible precursors of the more elaborate nucleic acid epoch."

If any of these categories fit, you MUST read this book:

1. Parents with children playing American football or hockey- head trauma and concussions leading to "dementia" like symptoms; Chapter 23- "Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy: The Athletes' Plague,"

2. Hunters eating wild game- the spread "diseased prions" to wild game; Chapter 17- "Into the Wild: Deer, Elk, Moose and Caribou."

From the book "Prion Protein Protocols," (2008), edited by Andrew F. Hill, Ph.D, Humana Press, page 253:
"Although the natural route of CWD (Chronic wasting disease) transmission is unknown, lateral transmission (cite) via ingestion of forage or water contaminated by secretions, excretions, or other sources, for example, CWD-infected carcasses (cite), is the most plausible natural route. Long thought to be limited in the wild to a relatively small endemic area in northeastern Colorado, southeastern Wyoming, and southwestern Nebraska, the disease has since been found in states east of the Mississippi in free-ranging deer in Wisconsin (cite), Illinois, New York, and West Virginia, and in the Canadian provinces of Saskatchewan and Alberta."
" ... to show that skeletal muscles of CWD-infected deer harbor infectious prions, demonstrating that humans consuming or handling meat from CWD-infected animals are at risk to prion exposure (cite)."

3. Eating of non-100% grass fed beef. The risk of exposure to "diseased prions" in beef is reduced by eating only 100% grass-fed cattle (Note: this information is not from this book). Although see #2 above re: the spread of CWD.

This book also contains an alarming account of the British governments lack of a response to the BSE (mad-cow) in British cattle until it was a crisis in the late 1980's, and talks about a "cover-up."

See also:
National Meat Association v. Harris, Attorney General of California was a California case was eventually decided by the U.S. Supreme Court on January 23, 2012.
see:, this opinion should be read.
This is case is relevant to Mr. Ingram's book in that the main issue as presented in the court case was the humane treatment of "downer" cows and pigs in a cull-cow slaughter plant in Chino, California. See

The U.S. Supreme Court Case came from the U.S. Court of Apeals for the Ninth Circuit, Primary Citation 599 F.3d. 1093 (C.A.9 (Cal.), 2010- see www. national-assn-v-brown. This opinion contains much more information and should be read; and upheld the California law (which be the way was a change of the Cal Penal Code by the State Legislature). The U.S. Supreme Court reversed and sided with the Meat Association on the grounds that Federal Law trumps State (California) Law on the same issues.

In these court opinions there is no mention at all of prions or of the disease of prion proteins or of "mad cow" et. al. This case dealt with "downer" animals, which in the U.K. has caused a crisis, and leads directly to the disease of prion proteins, yet the Courts do not discuss this issue. The disease of Prion proteins is a national, worldwide public health issue.
The U.S. Supreme Court decided this case on the technicalities of Federal law trumping State law on the same issue and no mention at all was made of any Prion disease or "Mad Cow" disease is made in the U.S. Supreme Court decision or in the U.S. Court of Apeals for the Ninth Circuit decision.

See also: Northeastern University Law Journal: Vol. 4, No. 1 Spring 2012 Paperback – May 13, 2012
This whole volume is on "Society's interest in food ... ." page i.
There is a "Note and Comment" by Shelly Barron entitled "California's Continued Struggle Against Nonambulatory Animal Slaughter and the Limits of Federal Preemption: 'National Meat Association v. Brown.'" Note: this article was written before the U.S. Supreme Court decision but Ms. Barron does comment on the Supreme Court decision by Justice Kagan in the Conclusion of the article. In my limited search for law review articles on this case this was the only article I could find! (No California law schools seems to want to tackle this issue- but maybe I just missed them).
5.0 von 5 Sternen A Page-turner 4. August 2014
Von Chris Yavelow - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe|Verifizierter Kauf
For me, this was a true page-turner. I'm not a scientist, but Jay Ingram made this topic so interesting in an almost novelistic style that I could not put it down. He often embedded the facts within stories that would interest anyone, sort of the "stories behind the facts." And, as has been mentioned in other reviews, he explained the scientific concepts in laymen's language in advance of digging into their significance. I did find some paragraphs near the end that were repeated verbatim from earlier in the book, an editing slip-up, I presume. I highly recommend this book to everyone, particularly someone who has lost a loved one to CJD, as I have.
4.0 von 5 Sternen Good overview of difficult area 18. Mai 2014
Von Amazon Customer - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Kindle Edition|Verifizierter Kauf
The writing is clear and he seems (to a non expert) to understand the topic. It will be interesting to see if prion knowledge yields treatments.
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