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WAO Medical Book Review

Immunogenomics and Human Disease
Editor: Andras Falus

ISBN #: ISBN: 0-470-03324-X

List price: $180.00 USD
Available from: Wiley

Gary Hellermann, PhD
University of South Florida College of Medicine, Tampa, FL, USA

This is a collection of 23 articles by an international group of authors focusing on the use of bioinformatics in studying human disease. The content includes discussions and examples of the use of new technology for studying the pathology of immune diseases such as asthma, lupus and arthritis, and the role of the immune system in cancer biology.

The editor refers to the specific area of bioinformatics as immunogenomics, the application of new laboratory methods and computing technology to the study of variations in the human genome as they relate to diseases involving the immune system. The use of individual human DNA sequence information for disease research, designing new drugs and therapies and individually tailoring treatments is of the highest importance in this century. The breadth and depth of the subject presents a daunting task to any editor hoping to produce a useful work, but this collection has succeeded in covering the field in sufficient detail and variety to match that hope.

Although primarily aimed at researchers, others such as clinicians, students and those engaged in drug discovery will also profit from reading this collection of articles. Dr Falus is professor and chairman of the Department of Genetics, Cell and Immunobiology at Semmelweis University in Budapest, Hungary. He is a member of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences and is the author of over 250 scientific papers.

We are still in the midst of the genomic revolution arising from the sequencing of the human genome and the understanding of this wealth of data at the level of proteins and pathways is the next great challenge. Immunogenomics, the analysis of genomic variations in relation to specific immune system responses, is the focus of this collection of articles by internationally known experts in immunology and bioinformatics. As one of the book's authors put it, "The genome tells us what could happen, the transcriptome tells us what might happen and the proteome tells us what does happen." Obtaining the gene sequence is only the first stage in a complex, multi-step process that is brought out here through detailed description, example and illustration.

The book is not only an up-to-date review, but includes practical information on identifying single nucleotide polymorphisms, using arrays for genomic analysis, photoaffinity labeling, human monocytes and dendritic cells as model systems, identifying diagnostic markers, and much more. Its usefulness also stems from the individual authors' attempts to define the terms, concepts and methods employed in bioinformatics. A standardization of the language used in this complex area should greatly facilitate communication. From the general to the specific, this book provides a comprehensive cross-section of current knowledge on the rapidly changing field of genomics as it applies to the immune system.