Madness and Memory
The Discovery of Prions--A New Biological Principle of Disease
By Stanley B. Prusiner
(Yale University Press, Hardcover, 9780300191141, 320pp.)
Publication Date: April 2014
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In this book, Prusiner tells the remarkable story of his discovery of prions--infectious proteins that replicate and cause disease but surprisingly contain no genetic material--and reveals how superb and meticulous science is actually practiced with talented teams of researchers who persevere. He recounts the frustrations and rewards of years of research and offers fascinating portraits of his peers as they raced to discover the causes of fatal brain diseases. Prusiner's hypothesis, once considered heresy, now stands as accepted science and the basis for developing diagnoses and eventual cures. He closes with a meditation on the legacy of his discovery: What will it take to cure Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, Lou Gehrig's and other devastating diseases of the brain?