Human Biochemistry (Tenth Edition)

Human Biochemistry (Tenth Edition)

82 H u m a n B i o c h e m i s t r y ( T e n t h Edition) by J M Often & O W Neuhaus. pp 984. The C V Mosby Co, St Louis. 1982. £23.25 ISBN 0 - 8 0 1 ...

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82 H u m a n B i o c h e m i s t r y ( T e n t h Edition) by J M Often & O W Neuhaus. pp 984. The C V Mosby Co, St Louis. 1982. £23.25 ISBN 0 - 8 0 1 6 - 3 7 3 0 - 9 This is the tenth edition of a long-established and, I gather, popular American Biochemistry textboook which may not be familiar to British Biochemists. Its authors combine a biochemical with a physiological approach to describe in depth the biochemistry of the h u m a n animal. As a result the coverage is somewhat unusual both in content and emphasis. Section one deals with basic biochemical descriptions of cells and the dynamic nature of metabolism. Sections which follow concentrate on basic metabolic pathways and regulation, including gene expression. There then follow sections on the biochemistry of specialised tissues and body fluids, cellular communication (hormones, transport and metabolic interrelationships between tissues), human nutrition and molecular aspects of disease. Should the reader's basic knowlege of chemistry and physics be insufficient for understanding the main text, a final section is provided to remedy this without interrupting the main discussion. Although in parts this approach is refreshingly different and aspects receiving scant attention in other textbooks are well covered, the overall presentation is rather old-fashioned and exhibits that physiological tendency to catalogue and tabulate rather than to explain. The main problem with 'Human Biochemistry' is that it is neither fish nor fowl. Is it aimed at Medical students, students of Biochemistry or those following 'para-medical' courses? For Medical students the basic biochemistry is too detailed but the coverage of disease states is by and large too superficial and often fails to explain the symptoms and indicate treatments. Concentrating as it does on human biochemistry, it is clearly unsuitable as a core text for science students and, in any case, there are other more comprehensive, better illustrated and far cheaper alternatives. For 'para-medical' courses there is simply too much detail. In summary, a book for the library to be dipped into for aspects not usually covered in basic textbooks. S J Higgins

Molecular Cloning. A Laboratory

Manual by T Maniatis, E F Fritsch and J Sambrook. pp 545. Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, New York. 1982. $48 ISBN 0 - 8 7 9 6 9 - 1 3 6 - 0 This is a large-format paperback manual with plastic binding that opens flat for use at the bench. It arose out of the collection of lab protocols used during the 1980 Cold Spring Harbor course on the Molecular Cloning of Eukaryotic Genes, having been revised and re-written several times since then. The claims of the authors are honest, as is appropriate in such a rapidly-moving field. They do not claim to be infallible but they do say that the procedures included have been thoroughly tested and used successfully in theix laboratories (and they welcome suggestions from consumers). The Manual falls into twelve sections, foliowed by three Appendices ("how to sterilize glassware, make buffers", etc; sequence, restriction sites and fragments of pBR322; and commonly used bacterial strains~. Within the twelve sections, one is told how to do practically everything that one needs to do from isolating mRNA to the identification and analysis of recombinant DNA clones. There is not much on DNA sequencing, but a brief protocol for Maxam and Gilbert is given. Details are given of the translation of mRNA in Xenopus oocytes. It is debatable whether enough information is given here for someone to follow or whether it is sensible to embark on this procedure without personal 'lessons'. Each section gives a brief description (from 1 paragraph to 1 page) of the principle of the method which later is then detailed as a set of steps (eg "6. Place the tube in a boilingBIOCHEMICAL EDUCATION

11(2) 1983

water bath for 40 seconds"). Notes are inserted at points where there may be difficulties or alternatives and the authors wisely recommend that the products of each step in a protocol should be tested to verify that the reaction was successful before proceeding. The few drawings and diagrams are perfectly clear and on the whole sources of material are mentioned if there are likely to be problems (eg reverse transcriptase). Biochemical Educators will find this a splendid source of ideas for practical classes (if they can afford the enzymes and reagents) and will find that the protocols are set out in a way that is a model of clarity for others to follow. Every lab should have one. E J Wood Physics for the Biological Sciences by F R Hallett, P A Speiglet and R H Stinson. pp 255. Chapman and Hall, London. 1982. £9.95 ISBN 0 - 4 1 2 - 2 4 7 5 0 - X If biologists are to converse with physicists then it is imperative that they should have some appreciation of the underlying thinking of physicists and here is a book which outlines physical models using results from weli known biological systems to illustrate the physics. For example, it was interesting to find the same wave-equations describing the echo-locating activities of bats as well as light absorption by vitamin A this is certainly a spread of activities which can be linked only through wave-equations. Commonplace analogies are often employed to guide the reader into complex models. Possibly the most amusing for the reviewer was the idea of drunks moving from one bar to another through a medium of fighting children in order to provide a model of diffusion in mixtures - the pictures conjured up by this model are many but it certainly provides a realistic base from which a diffusion model can be built. It is worth mentioning also that these concepts are described without overwhelming the reader with mathematics. I felt very much at ease with this book and can recommend it to first year biologists, chemists and biochemists; all will gain new insights from reading it. Since it is a second edition many of the irritating typographical and other errors generally associated with new books have been removed. My only criticism concerned the index which seems a little sparse and if it had been wider in coverage then it would have made it easier for students to use the book as a general reference text rather than just a course book. If a third edition is produced then possibly this deficiency will be corrected: it would also be good if a section on electron-micrographs could be included. This powerful technique is now widely applied in biology yet it does not specifically appear in the present book. S P Spragg Biochemistry of Antimicrobial Action. Third Edition. by J J Franklin and A Snow. pp 217. Chapman & Hall, London. 1981. £7.50. The third edition of this excellently written book has been largely re-written and expanded. After a brief historical introduction of the development of our knowledge of antimicrobial action it deals systematically with the action of antibiotics and synthetic drugs on cell walls and membranes and on nucleic acid and protein synthesis, as well as compounds with special applications. There are further chapters on the penetration of these agents into cells and the development of resistance to their action. It represents a mine of information for both student and research workers; while it does not give a bibliography for the original literature each chapter recommends reviews and summary articles which will readily enable the literature to be penetrated. A book which is highly recommended and still very moderately priced. F W Chattaway