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Cancer Virus: The discovery of the Epstein-Barr Virus Hardcover – April 1, 2014

ISBN-13: 978-0199653119 ISBN-10: 0199653119 Edition: 1st

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1 edition (April 1, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199653119
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199653119
  • Product Dimensions: 8.6 x 0.8 x 5.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #540,626 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"...serves as a unique and early chapter in what is now a hot field of biological inquiry." --The Scientist

About the Author

Dorothy H. Crawford has been Assistant Principal for Public Understanding of Medicine at the University of Edinburgh since 2007. Her previous books include The Invisible Enemy (OUP, 2000), Deadly Companions (OUP, 2007), and Viruses: A Very Short Introduction (OUP, 2011). She was elected a Fellow of both the Royal Society of Edinburgh and the Academy of Medical Sciences in 2001, and awarded an OBE for services to medicine and higher education in 2005.

Ingolfur Johannessen is a Consultant medical virologist and senior lecturer, Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh and University of Edinburgh.

Alan B. Rickinson is Professor of Cancer Studies in the School of Cancer Sciences at the University of Birmingham. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society and a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences.

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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By E. A. Lovitt HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWER on May 13, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
While taking a course in immunology, I became interested in viruses and bacteria that hijack our immune systems, in essence getting a free ride from the very cells that are tasked with protecting our bodies from foreign pathogens and damaged 'self' cells. A well-known example of a virus that hides in and eventually destroys our immune system is HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) which targets Helper T cells. I learned from this book that the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), which is one of the most common viral infections in humans, attacks our B lymphocytes, and under certain circumstances, our T lymphocytes and our NK (Natural Killer) cells.

"Cancer Virus" takes its reader on a tour of the many different types of cancer caused by EBV, beginning in Africa with Burkitt Lymphoma, which was the first cancer to be identified as originating from this protean virus. According to the authors, it is still not entirely clear why Burkitt Lymphoma most commonly occurs in children living in the malarial regions of the world, e.g. equatorial Africa and Papua New Guinea, but it is believed that chronic malaria reduces resistance to EBV, allowing it to take hold in the body's B lymphocytes. Burkitt himself "found a close association between this high intensity of malaria and high tumour incidence. Moreover, the peak age incidence for the tumour coincided with the age at which the children had the highest levels of malaria parasites in their blood."

The task of proving that EBV could infect normal B lymphocytes and transform them into malignant cells takes up most of the rest of this book, and the authors provide a fascinating glimpse into the microbiology, genetics, and epidemiology that it took to pin down the problems caused by this herpes virus.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Joseph L. Famulary on June 30, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
If you like detective work at the science level, this is a book for you. How do you track down a malicious piece of code (virus), find out how it causes cancers, and then stop it? Some of the answers lie in this narrative, but not all of course.

You need either a great memory, or a background in medicine to follow all the steps involved. If not, you will have to refer to previous chapters for review. Endnotes are a weakness. Who wants to stop reading a page, place a bookmark, go to the end of the book and check the notes and then return? Footnotes would have been much better.

Viruses are among the most amazing biological creations on the planet. Not life in the normal sense, but just bits of code bound on destroying their host. They have an amazing bag of tricks for doing so, which is discussed in the book. They are very similar to digital viruses that depend on the host program for their existence, and similarly have nothing but malign intent. That's why they are named viruses in the digital world! But if digital viruses like Stuxnet have been described as way beyond rocket science, then biological viruses like Epstein-Barr are Stuxnet a thousand years from now.

Towards the end of the work the authors make a strange apology: "these restricted forms have not been devised for the malevolent purpose of causing disease." (p.177). This implies that Nature is just Nature and means no harm. Hogwash! When one gets into the realm of purpose, one enters the supernatural. Some theoretical physicists conjecture that there is a two dimensional programming source at the edge of our universe (there could be more universes), that programs what goes on inside our universe. If so, then the programming for viruses is much closer to malignant that benign. Maybe the Matrix has it right.
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This book is good for understanding the history of Epstein-Barr virus. I love it very much. I hope that I can learn a lot from it.
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