Applied Biochemistry of Clinical Disorders (Second Edition)

Applied Biochemistry of Clinical Disorders (Second Edition)

158 Book Reviews Essays in Biochemistry Volume 22 E d i t e d by R D M a r s h a l l a n d K F T i p t o n . pp. 200. A c a d e m i c Press, L o n ...

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Book Reviews Essays in Biochemistry

Volume 22

E d i t e d by R D M a r s h a l l a n d K F T i p t o n . pp. 200. A c a d e m i c Press, L o n d o n . 1986. £14 I S B N 0 - 1 2 - 5 8 1 2 2 - 5 On receiving this book to review, I was reminded that it is almost 20 years since I bought the first few volumes of the series in preparation for my degree examinations. The fact that the head of my department was one of the Editors of the series might have influenced my decision, but to have bought the books from my very limited resources I must have been convinced of their value. A new volume has been published every year since then, reflecting the continued high standard of the series and the popularity of reviews of this type, not only with students but also with researchers wishing to obtain an up to date picture of subjects outside their speciality. Volume 22 of Essays in Biochemistry contains five chapters; the first, written by L Hall and P N Campbell, who only recently retired as one of the Editors of the series. Entitled '~lactalbumin and related proteins: a versatile gene family with an interesting parentage', the chapter shows vividly how biochemistry has progressed during the time since the topic was covered earlier in Essays, Volume 6. It is a clearly written chapter describing the protein chemistry, enzymology and molecular genetics of c~-lactalbumin. The now familiar comparison of the protein with lysozyme is brought into the era of molecular genetics. The description of a recently identified protein of the male reproductive tract which bears some resemblance to both, adds an interesting postscript to the story. In the second chapter, K B M Reid, outlines the activation and control of the complement system. Again, the influence of cloning is much in evidence. The chapter, which is dedicated to Rodney Porter, is written in the clear, no-nonsense style that he, himself, possessed and that those of us who worked with him try to emulate. The chapter is particularly well illustrated and will, I am sure, be extremely popular with biochemists and molecular biologists trying to keep up with the rapid advances in this area of Immunology. Chapter 3 by Tony Turner describes the processing and metabolism of neuropeptides. Having listed the 40 peptides known to be associated with the mammalian nervous system, he describes in detail the synthesis and processing by limited proteolysis of some of these peptides resulting in the generation of biological activity. The subsequent role of proteolysis in the inactivation of the peptides is also described with the realisation that an understanding of the mechanism of action of these enzymes might lead to the development of safer and more effective neuroactive drugs. Chapters 2 and 3 illustrate different aspects of the role of proteases in biological control. They would form a lecture course in themselves, typical of all that is good about this series. In chapter 4, A P Demchenko describes the theoretical and practical aspects of fluorescence analysis of protein dynamics. He describes how these techniques are evolving to the point where the dynamic structure of proteins and the effects of ligand binding can be studied. I would have welcomed a few more detailed examples of the application of these techniques and a guide to the information that can be obtained. The comprehensive list of up to date references will, however, make this information easy to retrieve. The final chapter is much different in style and content to the others. H McIIwain discusses the history of the use of the terms competitive and non-competitive in interactions among chemical substances in biological systems. Citing much of the pioneering work in the subject of enzyme kinetics from around the turn of the century it offers a glimpse into the far history of our subject which was unknown to me and will doubtless be so to younger


readers of this book. For example, in description of the mechanism of action of invertase the author asks us to "see reference 13 and 14 for review of early literature" - - refs 13 and 14 are 1890 and 1899 respectively! Dr Mcllwain also informs us that Haldane's monograph entitled 'Enzymes' which was 200 pages long and cited some 600 references was written at a time when such accounts were usually some 5-10 times longer than that. The high standard of this series has been maintained. The books are still reasonably priced. The reviews are very readable and up to date covering subjects of interest to a wide audience. I see no reason why Essays in Biochemistry should not continue for another 20 years. M A Kerr

Applied Biochemistry of Clinical Disorders (Second Edition) E d i t e d by A G G o r n a l l . pp. 598. J B L i p p i n c o t t C o m p a n y , P h i l a d e l p h i a , U S A . 1986. ISBN 0-397-50768-2 It is six years since the first edition of this book appeared. The passage of time has produced a nearly 25% increase in size, most of which is spread out over the individual chapters, but a part is due to the inclusion of three new ones. The format is essentially unchanged, as is the objective of producing a book that contains the knowledge of clinical biochemistry that should be acquired during the undergraduate and early graduate education of physicians. The textbook approach in which rather concise but well organised and clearly illustrated chapters sketch out the basic theoretical principles and their application in the diagnosis and management of clinical disorders is used very effectively to achieve the editor's objectives. Twenty-eight chapters by 29 authors (mostly Canadian) are grouped into four parts, ie General Topics, Organ System Diseases, Metabolic Diseases, and Special Topics. I found the grouping in the last part rather haphazard since Chapter 22 (on Nutrition, Vitamins, and Trace Metals) and Chapter 26 (on Receptors and Disease) would have been appropriately placed under General Topics. Also, Chapters 21, 23 and 28 (on Pediatric Clinical Biochemistry, Prenatal Diagnosis and Clinical Assessment of High-Risk Pregnancy, and Molecular Diagnosis of Genetic Defects, respectively) could have been placed closer together, and Chapter 24 (on Therapeutic Drug Monitoring) could have followed Chapter 5 (on Diagnostic Clinical Toxicology) much more naturally. The longest chapter (74 pages) is that on Endocrine Disorders and covers the hypothalamus, pituitary, thyroid, adrenals (medulla and cortex), and the gonads. Gastro-intestinal tract, parathyroid, and pancreatic hormones are, rightly, dealt with elsewhere. Other chapters range between 7 pages (Molecular Diagnosis of Genetic Defects) and 36 pages (Hepato Biliary Disorders) in length. I like material in textbooks to be cross-referenced so as to facilitate the reader's task. This I consider especially important when the chapters are by different authors and are compact presentations on the topic. An extensive index makes up for this, and if well used will supplement very well what cross referencing there is. Few books do not contain some factual errors. I found a few in this one but, though irritating, they are not of great consequence (eg a 24 h urine sample contains 200 to 300 mg of solid material, on p 154; ~/-chains of HbF differ from [3-chains of H b A by only one amino acid residue, on p 196; G A B A is an inhibitor of neurotransmission, on p 243).

159 I have little doubt that this will be as successful as the previous edition. It will be particularly useful for clinical biochemists and chemical pathologists, for physicians in general, for teachers of biochemistry especially in medical schools and where integrated or systems-based curricula are followed, and for medical students throughout their training. F Vella

Chimie Generale m Travaux Dirig6s Vol 1 Equilibres (pp 244) V o l 2 Structure m Cin6tique ~ (pp 224)


by G M L D u m a s , M G r o s a n d L Shriver. H e r m a n n , Paris. 1986. E a c h F F 9 4 ISBN 2-7056-6020-8 and 2-7056-6038-0 These two books, written in French, are devoted to general chemistry. They have been especially conceived for medical and pharmaceutical students at the undergraduate level. After a brief introduction on the basic concepts of each area, problems (with detailed answers) are developed to allow the student to understand and apply the theory. The first volume covers three different chapters on: thermodynamics of chemical equilibria, aqueous acid-base equilibria, oxido-reduction equilibria. The second volume is also organized into three chapters on: atomistics, chemical kinetics and chemical thermodynamics. A great number of the examples of the problems that have been chosen use molecules of biochemical or medical interest, and many developments have classical biochemical support (enzymology as an example for kinetics, or amino-acid titration for acid-base equilibria). The books are easy to read, the explanations are very clear and the progressive levels of difficulties in the problems allow the student to test his own level. These volumes will be very useful for understanding general chemistry and for giving adequate basis for future understanding of biochemistry, especially on a structural point of view. J Wallach

Spectrophotometry and Spectrofluorimetry A Practical Approach E d i t e d by D A H a r r i s a n d C L B a s h f o r d . p p 176. I R L Press, O x f o r d . 1987. £25 o r £15.50 ( p b k ) ISBN 0-947946-69-1 or-46-2 (pbk) This is another addition to the Practical Approach series. It is aimed at the research level and would be valuable reading for students commencing a research project. It would also be useful in preparing lectures on techniques. This volume differs somewhat from others in the Series in that, as might be expected, few recipes or procedures are given. Instead it gives some background, many helpful hints on spectrophotometry and spectrofluorimetry. I suspect many of our students are totally ignorant of many of these and have never given any serious thought to what is happening in their spectrophotometer. This will only get worse as more instruments that are controlled by microchip come into use. The first chapter is an introduction to the theory and to the various instrumental layouts, and the second is on spectra. There is some overlap here and the two chapters might with advantage have been combined. Chapter 3 deals with assays

B I O C H E M I C A L E D U C A T I O N 15(3) 1987

performed by spectrophotometry. It covers quite a wide range, but, like the rest of the book, it is sometimes difficult to find the answer to your particular problem rapidly. Chapter 4 deals with the measurement of ligand binding to proteins and Chapter 5 with spectrophotometry and spectrofluorimetry of cellular components. Chapter 6 is on stopped-flow. It offers a very straightforward practical approach and will be most valuable: I could not help wishing that temperature-jump had been included too. The final, very short chapter deals with photochemical action spectra. On the whole the book is well written and illustrated, and there are some interesting examples given which would serve as very revealing class practical experiments. I thought that it might have been more forward looking in terms of considering likely developments in instrumentation. For example gel-scanners are more often than not purpose-built (laser) instruments these days, and surely we will see more diode-array scanning spectrophotometers in the near future. However this does not detract from its overall usefulness. P B Blakemore

Enzymes in Industry and Medicine by G H Bickerstaff. p p 98. E d w a r d A r n o l d , L o n d o n . 1987. £4.95 ISBN 0-7131-2935-2 (pbk) The 'Studies in Biology' Series has been going for a long time now (20 years), and this small volume is one of the series but appears in a slightly different format and is a little larger, being one of the first of the 'New Studies in Biology'. Succeeding volumes in this very successful series will appear in this format. The price is still reasonable, putting the books within the range of highschool libraries as well as individual students. The format also allows rapid updating of volumes when appropriate, and this feature is no more clearly shown than with the present volume which covers a large area of biotechnology. The level is at highschool or first year at university, giving good coverage of a range of topics but not great depth. It will especially be welcomed by school teachers with the present emphasis in syllabuses towards 'relevant' and applied aspects of biochemistry within the school biology and chemistry courses. A brief introduction outlines the catalytic properties of enzymes, with no kinetics and little on the properties of proteins, and then chapter 2 deals with immobilized enzymes. The next three chapters constitute the major part of the book, dealing with enzymes as analytical tools, enzymes in medical therapy, and finally industrial applications. I found the text readable and potentially difficult points well explained. In general the author deals with most of the relevant points, but sometimes fails to distinguish clearly between exciting potentialities and successful things already in commercial production. In the section on pregnancy testing using antibodies to HCG, more might have been made of the ease of home test-kits (surely of keen interest to many of the potential readers) and of how colloidal gold is used in the recently produced kits. Occasional oversimplification (eg that Sepharose is a 'trade name' for agarose) are forgiveable in the light of the level of the intended readership. There are only two pages on recombinant D N A technology, and a good deal of these are taken up with explaining restriction enzymes. The production of enzymes by recombinant D N A technology is already happening and I would have thought that more space for this topic might have been appropriate. Overall, nevertheless, a volume that will surely be welcomed by students and teachers at this level. W Holmes