- Hardcover: 304 pages
- Publisher: Basic Books; 1 edition (October 2, 2012)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0465021751
- ISBN-13: 978-0465021758
- Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.5 x 1.1 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars See all reviews (72 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #624,855 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Regenesis: How Synthetic Biology Will Reinvent Nature and Ourselves 1st Edition
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[A]n important and surprisingly accessible book, magisterially structured to intertwine the accelerated history of synthetic biology with its precedents in humanity's earlier technological revolutions and in the epochal evolution of life itself. The book packs in a superb short course on life's molecular workings, enabling the reader to grasp how we can actually contemplate resurrecting mammoths and Neanderthals, brewing biofuel from seawater and sunlight, engineering total immunity to viral infection, storing data in DNA, and more.”
Nathan Myhrvold, Founder and CEO, Intellectual Ventures
A delightfully opinionated, visionary and controversial romp through synthetic biology, which is one of the most important technologies of our time."
Reading the first book penned by Church, a Harvard biologist and polymath, is like falling down a rabbit hole straight into his fermenting brain. Church's wide-ranging career includes developing novel methods for reading the genetic instruction manual, or genome, of creatures from bacteria to humans. Now he focuses on synthesizing those instructions from scratch.... [A] dizzying survey of how scientists have unearthed the secrets of living organisms and are now using that information to revamp life itself.”
Robert T. Gonzalez, io9
[A] phenomenal read.”
Wall Street Journal
A definitive account of the advances and business ventures that define this new science [of synthetic biology] . When history is written centuries from now, it is more likely that writing DNA will be the most enduring innovation [of our age].”
Bold and provocative Church and Regis offer a behind-the-scenes look at synthetic biology, a rapidly emerging field that is reprogramming the genetic code to create organisms and functions not found in nature. Regenesis tells of recent advances that may soon yield endless supplies of renewable energy, increased longevity and the return of long-extinct species.”
The life sciences emerge as the new high-tech in this paean to synthetic biology . Each step in the genome's evolution serves as a springboard for expositions of how synthetic biology will revolutionize renewable energy, multivirus resistance, and more.”
Mike Loukides, O'Reilly Radar
If there's one book that can turn this movement into a full-blown revolution, this is it.”
Derek Jacoby, O'Reilly Radar
George Church and Ed Regis pull off an exciting and speculative romp through the field of synthetic biology and where it could take us in the not too distant future . Regenesis provides an accessible and engaging introduction to the revolutionary potentials of synthetic biology and should be of interest to both experts and a general science audience.”
Eric Topol, Professor of Genomics, The Scripps Research Institute, and author of The Creative Destruction of Medicine
Literally reinventing nature could provide solutions to intractable problems with the energy supply, global warming, and human health. In Regenesis, George Church, a pioneer and pre-eminent force in promoting our ability to read DNA sequence, now guides us to the future: writing DNA sequence. Teaming up with Ed Regis, Church provides a mind-bending, tour de force account of how this seventh industrial revolution will take hold, and how ultimately the survival of our planet and the human species may rely upon rewriting the code of life. An enthralling journey into the futurewith truly profound implicationsthat should not be missed.”
Stewart Brand, author of Whole Earth Discipline
Here you will find the bleeding, screaming, thrilling edges of what is becoming possible with genomic engineering, handsomely framed in the fine-grained fundamentals of molecular biology. It is a combination primer and forecast of what is coming in this century of biology' from the perspective of a leading pioneer in the science.”
[An] authoritative, sometimes awe-inspiring book . A valuable glimpse of science at the edge.”
About the Author
Ed Regis is author of seven science books, most recently What Is Life? Investigating the Nature of Life in the Age of Synthetic Biology.
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Top Customer Reviews
-Covers so many different concepts in this emerging field of biology, from the stuff already in existence, to the potentials in the not-so-distance future. Author actually does a solid job of helping people realize some things are a lot closer to reality than they may have realized before, though I will say, is overly optimistic in some other areas.
- Author is quite passionate about the biology and the science.
- Very little other options out there quite as up-to-date as this book (at least as of Oct 2015).
What is NOT so Good:
- This book's pacing is terrible.
- The author spends a LOT of time trying to give background history on the basics of biology, which isn't necessarily bad, but instead, it comes across as extraordinarily fluffy, and often repeats itself, and half the time, is probably unnecessary.
- It jumps back and forth a LOT and repeats itself a lot.
- It seems to lack depth. I almost feel bad about saying this because you can tell the author painstakingly included so many details and put so much effort forth, but I just feel like it maybe would have been more intriguing if it included more ethical analysis of some of these emerging techniques, from both sides. Instead, it makes for a very dry read. It's an informative read, but a rather dry one.
- In terms of writing quality, this is probably not really a 4/5 star book. It's not bad, but it is a challenging read, and not just because of the complicated science at-hand, but in overall flow and style the author gives us. However, there isn't really anything quite like it, or as up-to-date as it on the market, and the extraordinary level of detail the author gives deserves credit. Thus, I would definitely say this is more of a 3/5 star book, quality-wise, but the sheer knowledge gained after reading this deserves an extra bump to 4 star. Just be warned, this is not an easy book to stick into, and if you already have a biology background, it may be even harder to jump into when he spends chapters on the basics of DNA and so on.
There is a lot in this book. But I would like to just talk about my favorite part -- the iGEM competition. iGEM is an international student competition for genetic engineering. As Church says [referring to the year 2005], "Undergrads were now doing things, largely in a spirit of fun, that professional molecular biologists would have been hard-pressed to achieve a mere ten years earlier."
In the 2007 competition, the team from UC Berkeley engineered E. coli to produce a blood substitute that could be freeze-dried and stored, and then could be reconstituted and grown up in large volumes when needed. In 2008, the grand prize winner was a Slovenian team from the University of Ljubljana which created a synthetic vaccine for the bacteria that causes stomach ulcers. In 2006, the same Slovenian team had presented an idea for preventing infection of human cells by HIV.
In 2010 the competition had grown from the original four teams (in 2005) to 130 teams from all over the world: Asia (38), Europe (38), the US (37), Canada (10), Latin America (4) and Africa (1). The ideas presented by these student teams were amazing, inspiring, brilliant.
A team from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology at Lausanne aimed to stop malaria propagation by acting on the vector, that is, the mosquito itself, by coaxing the bacterium that naturally lives in the mosquito's gut to express an immunotoxin that can prevent the malarial agent from infecting the mosquito, thereby eliminating transmission of the parasite to humans. A team from Polytechnic University of Valencia, Spain had a plan to change the climate of Mars (yes, the planet) by building an engineered yeast, resistant to temperature changes and able to produce a dark pigment which will be responsible for a global temperature increase.(They received a gold prize for their efforts).
A team from the University of Washington in Seattle were attempting to synthesize antibiotics, starting with Anthrax for the competition. In my view, this is an idea of staggering proportions given the current crisis in antibiotic resistance. (This same same team went on to win the North American competition the following year for engineering E. coli to produce both diesel fuel and an enzyme to break down gluten in the digestive tract.)
Also receiving a gold prize was a team from the Chinese University of Hong Kong for creating a living data storage system. Apparently, you no longer need to rely exclusively on micro-chips anymore to store an absurd amount of data in a small space.
And the big winner was once again the team from Slovenia for coming up with an "assembly-line" molecule for DNA engineering. I don't pretend to fully understand it, but Church likens it to the moment in the industrial revolution when standardized nuts and bolts, machine-tools and assembly-line production systems were introduced. There was a time when to build a machine you had to build everything basically from scratch, custom made and hand-tooled. But around the turn of the 18th century a wave of standardized machinery became the norm, accelerating the process of invention and industrialization exponentially. Apparently, the judges thought the "assembly-line" molecule was potentially at that level of importance. Church's larger point here is that we are on the cusp of assembly-line genetic engineering. Expect an explosion in innovation.
Overall, the book just seemed really fluffy. Many of the points made were repeated over and over without any depth. Instead, the authors fill pages by going into extensive detail about irrelevant matters, such as devoting several pages to describing the building where a convention on synthetic biology was hosted.
As a biology researcher, I can say this is definitely not for anyone with a background in science. Also, lay people looking for examples of synthetic biology should look elsewhere because this book does a poor job explaining things. Finally, those interested in the ethics of these issues will not find any interested arguments here on either side.