The Vaccine Race: How Scientists Used Human Cells to Combat Killer Viruses (Hardback)
  • The Vaccine Race: How Scientists Used Human Cells to Combat Killer Viruses (Hardback)
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The Vaccine Race: How Scientists Used Human Cells to Combat Killer Viruses (Hardback)

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Hardback 448 Pages / Published: 09/02/2017
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The epic and controversial story of a major breakthrough in cell biology that led to the creation of some of the world's most important vaccines. Until the late 1960s, tens of thousands of children suffered crippling birth defects if their mothers had been exposed to rubella, popularly known as German measles, while pregnant; there was no vaccine and little understanding of how the disease devastated foetuses. In June 1962, a young biologist in Philadelphia, using tissue extracted from an aborted foetus from Sweden, produced safe, clean cells that allowed the creation of vaccines against rubella and other common childhood diseases. Two years later, in the midst of a devastating German measles epidemic, his colleague developed the vaccine that would one day wipe out homegrown rubella. The rubella vaccine and others made with those foetal cells have protected more than 150 million people in the United States, the vast majority of them preschool children. The new cells and the method of making them also led to vaccines that have protected billions of people around the world from polio, rabies, chicken pox, measles, hepatitis A, shingles and adenovirus. Meredith Wadman's masterful account recovers not only the science of this urgent race, but also the political roadblocks that nearly stopped the scientists. She describes the terrible dilemmas of pregnant women exposed to German measles and recounts testing on infants, prisoners, orphans and the intellectually disabled, which was common in the era. These events take place at the dawn of the battle over using human foetal tissue in research, during the arrival of big commerce in campus labs, and as huge changes take place in the laws and practices governing who 'owns' research cells and the profits made from biological inventions. It is also the story of yet one more unrecognized woman whose cells have been used to save countless lives. With another frightening virus imperilling pregnant women on the rise today, no medical story could have more human drama, impact, or urgency today than The Vaccine Race.

Publisher: Transworld Publishers Ltd
ISBN: 9780857522726
Number of pages: 448
Weight: 758 g
Dimensions: 240 x 162 x 44 mm


MEDIA REVIEWS
"It is a thriller - a beautifully researched and paced thriller - and is destined to be a classic piece of science writing in its navigation of the nexus of personality, research and ethics." -- Edmund de Waal, author of The Hare with the Amber Eyes
"An extraordinary story and Wadman is to be congratulated, not just for uncovering it but for relaying it in such a pacy, stimulating manner. This is a first-class piece of science writing'" -- Robin McKie * Observer *
"Extraordinary...The Vaccine Race is a tremendous feat of research and synthesis, its lucid technical explanations combined with forays into the business politics of big pharma, and portraits of the scientists whose work has saved untold lives." -- Steven Poole * Daily Telegraph *
"Marvellous...fascinating...Wadman doesn't shy away from some very difficult and unpleasant truths...The Vaccine Race bears comparison with Richard Rhodes's Pulitzer Prize-winning The Making of the Atomic Bomb. I can pay no higher compliment to Meredith Wadman and her fine book" -- Manjit Kumar * The Literary Review *
"Wadman's brilliantly researched book unfolds like a thriller, but asks some tough ethical questions along the way." -- Sophie Ratcliffe, Associate Professor of English Literature, Oxford University
"A riveting tale of scientific infighting, clashing personalities, sketchy ethics and the transformation of cell biology from a sleepy scientific backwater to a high-stakes arena where vast fortunes are made." * Wall Street Journal *
"Riveting... invites comparison to Rebecca Skloot's 2007 The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks... Wadman stands back from the sources and material to guide the reader through a narrative that is no less captivating." * Nature *
"Epically readable - superb" -- Chris van Tulleken
"Meticulously researched... a success story for grown-ups... plenty of ammunition for those arguing with family or Facebook friends who have swallowed the conspiracy theories of the anti-vaccination community" -- Sheena Cruickshank * New Scientist *
"Superb ... It is a tale - told with pace and authority - of theft, evasion, deceit and obdurate overregulation" -- Robin McKie * Observer, Books of the Year *
"Meticulously researched and carefully crafted . . . The Vaccine Race, is an enlightening telling of the development of vaccines in the mid-20th century. . . . an intelligent and entertaining tome . . . [and] a comprehensive portrait of the many issues faced in the race to develop vaccines." * Science *
"Explains complex science in methodical detail." * Mail on Sunday *
"Excellent... an important story, well told" * The Scotsman *
"The Vaccine Race is an important read-for scientists, politicians, physicians, parents and everyone interested in how the world of medical research works... it is so important to read this book, to see how science works and how politics can and does interfere with what science does best and what is best for us." * Huffington Post *
"An exemplary piece of medical journalism, and Wadman makes strikingly clear the human costs of medical developments as well as the roles of politics and economics." * Publishers Weekly *
"Wadman does a superb job of making the technical comprehensible to the lay reader and, more importantly, makes the science come to life by honing in on the brilliant men and women who were driven to create new, life-saving vaccines... While the science is fascinating, the foibles of the main characters are what keep the reader gripped" * Globe and Mail *

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