Ashley's Reviews > The Family That Couldn't Sleep: A Medical Mystery

The Family That Couldn't Sleep by D.T. Max
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's review
Aug 11, 09

bookshelves: 2009-books, medical, non-fiction
Read in August, 2009

Fascinating look at some rare diseases including fatal familial insomnia, a disease that causes itching in sheep, and a disease with the primary symptom of hysterical laughter, among others which are all caused by prions (say: preeons). The most commonly known prion disease is bovine spongiform encephalopathy or mad cow disease.

Prion diseases cause some strange conditions that scientists still don't understand fully. They're also incredibly resistant - bleach, heat, metals, radiation, and the like can't destroy them and the scientific community is still unsure of the exact means they are spread. Kind of scary but fascinating at the same time. And it definitely makes me want to become vegetarian - the way some of these outbreaks have been handled is a bit concerning.

The middle part of the book got a little dry - lots of focus on the scientists conducting the research (including one's pedophiliac tendencies) and the power struggle between the leading scientists for credit for certain discoveries. Other than that, a really interesting read.

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Reading Progress

07/31/2009 page 50
14.88% "Still in the beginning but I'm hooked! The author explores rare diseases caused by prions (pree-ons) - a rogue protein that's quite hardy."

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