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Invisible Frontiers: The Race to Synthesize a Human Gene
From the spring of 1976 to the fall of 1978, three laboratories competed in a feverish race to clone a human gene for the first time, a feat that ultimately produced the world's first genetically engineered drug--the life-sustaining hormone insulin. Invisible Frontiers gives us a behind-the-scenes look at the three main groups at Harvard University, the University of Calif ...more
Paperback, 352 pages
Published April 11th 2002 by Oxford University Press, USA
(first published 1987)
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This was a 1987 book that you're likely only to find in the library or a used bookshop since its now out of print, but a worthwhile read if you want to see how the biotechnology industry was born. In particular, they look at biosynthetic insulin (now the only variety sold in North America) and how the product offered no patient benefit, but was nevertheless rushed to market. Today, we have evidence this benefited the drug industry with fat profits, but the side-effects of this product are well-d ...more
This is a terrifically readable account of the discovery of recombinant DNA and the birth of biotechnology. I read it when I first started work at Genentech in the 90's - its description of the early history of the company was fascinating. Read it again this summer, and it still holds up. I think the story is so well-told that the book should be of general interest.