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Junk DNA

A Journey Through the Dark Matter of the Genome

This book can be downloaded and read in Apple Books on your Mac or iOS device.


For decades after the identification of the structure of DNA, scientists focused only on genes, the regions of the genome that contain codes for the production of proteins. Other regions that make up 98 percent of the human genome were dismissed as "junk," sequences that serve no purpose. But researchers have recently discovered variations and modulations in this junk DNA that are involved with a number of intractable diseases. Our increasing knowledge of junk DNA has led to innovative research and treatment approaches that may finally ameliorate some of these conditions.

Junk DNA can play vital and unanticipated roles in the control of gene expression, from fine-tuning individual genes to switching off entire chromosomes. These functions have forced scientists to revisit the very meaning of the word "gene" and have engendered a spirited scientific battle over whether or not this genomic "nonsense" is the source of human biological complexity. Drawing on her experience with leading scientific investigators in Europe and North America, Nessa Carey provides a clear and compelling introduction to junk DNA and its critical involvement in phenomena as diverse as genetic diseases, viral infections, sex determination in mammals, and evolution. We are only now unlocking the secrets of junk DNA, and Nessa Carey's book is an essential resource for navigating the history and controversies of this fast-growing, hotly disputed field.

From Publishers Weekly

Feb 09, 2015 – Carey (The Epigenetics Revolution), a visiting professor at Imperial College, London, explores the latest in genomics research and describes, in prose that is for the most part accessible to nonscientists, the complexities of how scientists currently believe the genome works. Two surprising outcomes of the Human Genome Project were the discoveries that humans have only approximately 24,000 functional genes, "pretty much the same quantity as simple microscopic worms," and that over 98% of the DNA in human cells is "junk," long stretches that can't be translated into any proteins. Only recently have scientists began to study this junk, but even at this early stage of understanding, Carey demonstrates that we now know some of the junk DNA may well be partly responsible for terribly debilitating and, to date, intractable disorders such as Duchenne muscular dystrophy, various cancers, and Alzheimer's disease. She also discusses potential breakthrough drug therapies designed to make use of our growing knowledge of junk DNA to ameliorate or cure some of these devastating conditions. Carey makes two points very clearly: that our understanding is tentative and evolving, and that chromosomal functioning is far more intricate than anyone ever hypothesized.
Junk DNA
View in iTunes
  • $21.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Life Sciences
  • Published: Apr 14, 2015
  • Publisher: Columbia University Press
  • Seller: Perseus Books, LLC
  • Print Length: 360 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: This book can only be viewed on an iOS device with Apple Books on iOS 12 or later, iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

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