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WAO Medical Book Review

Posted: September 2012

Roitt's Essential Immunology (12th edition)
By Peter J. Delves, Seamus J. Martin, Dennis R. Burton, Ivan M. Roitt
2011 Wiley-Blackwell
ISBN: 978-1-4051-9683-3
ISBN (E-book): 978-1-4443-9482-5

Retail price:
$73.95 (USD) print version with free E-book, Desktop Edition
$55.00 (USD) E-book, Desktop Edition only
Available from Wiley-Blackwell

Chris Rutkowski, MRCP
Specialist Registrar in allergy
Allergy Department
Cambridge University Hospitals
Cambridge, United Kingdom

Immunology is often perceived to be too difficult and impenetrable a subject; many undergraduates, but also some clinicians, shy away from this discipline. Roitt's Essential Immunology by Delves, Martin, Burton & Roitt, however, provides a most useful overview of this fascinating subject.

Audience and Purpose
Roitt's Essential Immunology is of great interest to a medical student, perfect for a clinician dealing with patients with hypersensitivity reactions or autoimmune conditions and useful even to an experienced immunologist. This book is a truly 21st century publication designed for a modern reader who wishes to gain and further their knowledge of immunology.

The book is divided into two parts. Part 1 covers in great detail the fundamental principles of innate and acquired immunity; antibodies; antigen receptors and interactions; anatomy of the immune response; lymphocyte activation and production of effectors; control mechanism as well as ontogeny and phylogeny. It also explains the intricate details of various modern laboratory techniques.

Part 2 concentrates on the clinical immunology pertaining to infection; vaccines; immunodeficiency with a special emphasis on HIV; allergy and other hypersensitivity reactions; transplantation; autoimmunity and onco-immunology.

The glossary explains the most important immunology terms while informative photos, figures and tables add great value to this publication. Useful summaries at the end of each section and chapter help consolidate one's knowledge and aid revision of newly learned information.

An E-book, the Desktop Edition, is a digital, interactive textbook that is available for purchase by itself or free with the purchase of the print version. It allows readers to search for topics and terms in the book, make notes and highlight paragraphs in the text and share them with others. A free companion website offers MCQs, videos and animations explaining key concepts and informative podcasts which can be used on portable devices allowing one to study immunology "on the go."

Although all printed documents ultimately lose their relevance because of progress in the field after publication, there is little risk of this book becoming outdated in the foreseeable future. The website directs readers to online resources which can be readily accessed for the most recent information such as the use of recombinant allergen in the diagnosis of food and insect venom hypersensitivity, topics which are not covered in this book.