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By Jonathan Weiner

From Jonathan Weiner, Pulitzer Prize-winning writer of The Beak of the Finch, comes His Brother's Keeper -- the tale of a tender entrepreneur who gambles at the dicy technology of gene remedy to attempt to avoid wasting his brother's life.

Stephen Heywood was once twenty-nine years previous while he discovered that he was once loss of life of ALS -- Lou Gehrig's disorder. virtually in a single day his older brother, Jamie, grew to become himself right into a genetic engineer in a quixotic race to remedy the incurable. His Brother's Keeper is a robust account in their tale, as they trip jointly to the sting of medicine.

The e-book brings domestic for we all the hopes and fears of the hot biology. during this dramatic and suspenseful narrative, Jonathan Weiner supplies us a outstanding portrait of technological know-how and medication this present day. We find out about gene remedy, stem cells, mind vaccines, and different novel remedies for such nerve-death illnesses as ALS, Alzheimer's, and Parkinson's -- ailments that afflict hundreds of thousands, and contact the lives of many more.

It seems that the writer has a private stake within the tale besides. while he met the Heywood brothers, his personal mom used to be loss of life of an extraordinary nerve-death disorder. The Heywoods' gene therapist provided to attempt to avoid wasting her, too.

"The Heywoods' tale taught me many stuff in regards to the nature of therapeutic within the new millennium," Weiner writes. "They additionally taught me approximately what has no longer replaced because the time of the ancients and will by no means switch so long as there are people -- approximately what Lucretius calls ‘the ever-living wound of love.'

"The Heywoods suggest the complete tale to me now: an allegory from the sting of medication. a narrative to make us ask ourselves questions that we've got to invite yet do not need to invite. How a lot of lifestyles will we engineer? How a lot is allowed us?

"What may you do to avoid wasting your brother's life?"

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It might be a brief and soiled attempt of his gene remedy for Stephen. Jeff Rothstein was once keen to aim that test if Jamie may perhaps convince Margaret Sutherland to ship him a few of her mice. yet she was once very new to her box, and her examine was once relocating slowly. After a number of short conversations with Sutherland, Jamie enable that lead pass. “Jamie out of his brain with obsession, pinched and grabbing hair, apprehensive, operating in franticness,” Melinda wrote in her magazine on April 12, 1999. “I retain teasing him yet he's on area, on an facet with no a lot humor. ” She had simply accomplished dealing with their bureaucracy and their accounts. They owed $8,000 in taxes. not less than, staying with John and Peggy, they didn't need to pay lease. “Thank God we live the following. ” That day Robert Bonazoli joined the basis full-time. On April 14, 1999, the root included in Massachusetts as a nonprofit association. On paper, not less than, Jamie’s venture used to be genuine. “It’s official,” Melinda wrote in her magazine. “I purely wish he holds jointly. ” Jamie was once checking in with me now nearly day-by-day, and that i was once calling biologists I knew to invite their opinion of his undertaking. I knew a neuropathologist on the collage of Southern California, Carol Miller, whose mom had died of ALS. Carol’s husband is Seymour Benzer, the hero of Time, Love, reminiscence. She and Seymour had treated Carol’s mom of their domestic, and Carol had on account that all started to check ALS. In her laboratory she had tissue samples of her mother’s mind. Carol stumbled on Jamie’s tale attention-grabbing. She instructed me she was once very eager about Jeff Rothstein’s papers and the EAAT2 gene. “It’s a very reliable idea,” she acknowledged. “I imagine he’s acquired a truly fascinating gene, a truly attention-grabbing gene. ” Jamie Heywood would possibly not retailer his brother, Carol acknowledged. “But this can be the best way advances are made. ” nonetheless, such a lot biologists instructed me that Jamie’s inspiration was once loopy. while i discussed it to a recognized molecular biologist at Rockefeller, he actually rolled his eyes. “Most humans think this can be the time to determine why gene treatment isn't really working,” he stated, “not a time to be attempting it on humans. after all ALS is a terminal, lousy, terrible disorder. So while anyone is aware that they have got it, they're keen to do whatever. It’s a bit like prisoners on dying row. The query is whether or not we’re prepared for these experiments. ” whereas i used to be calling on biologists, I heard a rumor. Jacques Cohen had invited a bunch of infertility experts on a cruise within the Caribbean. Cohen was once organizing a retreat for his staff and a few different fertility medical professionals. They desired to meet privately to contemplate the future—to speculate the place their technological know-how used to be taking the human species. They have been surrounded through such exposure now that they desired to get distant from journalists and bioethicists to speak blue sky in safeguard. I spent a complete day composing a letter to Cohen, reminding him of our dinner at Princeton in 1997 and asking if i'll come alongside at the cruise as an observer. i presumed he may perhaps agree if I promised to not write approximately what occurred for it slow.

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