Sunday, March 27, 2016

Understanding Cancer Signalling

The book by Robert, the Textbook of cancer signaling, is one of the best works on cell signaling available as an introduction. As the author indicates in the preface the intent is for oncologists to obtain a better perspective of the issues associated with the wealth of new therapeutics as well as some of the key issues behind their introduction. For the most part the work is a high level, but not simplistic, organization and presentation of the key signaling paths. The general approach is to detail one class of paths after another and describe in excellent detail the elements of those pathways and how they function. Then there is a brief exposition of how aberrations in the pathways lead to oncogenic effects and then a discussion on pharmacological possibilities. This is done chapter by chapter.

The author’s collection and organization is superb and it presents the reader with an organization that they can come back to time and time again. He covers kinases, including MAP and other elements, cytokines, TGF, G protein, Wnt, Notch, and Hedgehog. He also discusses integrins and a collection of adhesion molecules. There is a discussion of B and T cell issues including Toll Like receptors and lymphocytic receptors. He ends with excellent discussions on cell cycle control as well as apoptosis.

The Appendices are superb summaries of DNA control, gene expression and protein activity. Overall this is a book that should be on the desk of almost every oncologist and it is an excellent summary for those involved in pathway analysis and their implications.

The most important elements of the book are the author’s organization and integration. It is simple, straightforward and touches on all the current elements under consideration.

This is not a book for the specialist but it is worth reading by those deeply involved in that work to see haw one person who truly understands the depth and breadth sees it structured.

On the side of a critique, and this is hard given the superb effort displayed, issue such as epigenetic factors should have gotten some bit of discussion. Specifically the issue of methylation and miRNA silencing need to be integrated into the overall signaling fabric. However that would clearly have extended and expanded the work

Also the reader should not look at this as a reference book, it was not intended as such.

Finally my only one negative is the lack of an Index. That most likely is a publisher problem and not the author’s problem. The lack of an index is not that serious since the author has organized the book so well it is almost not necessary.

I would strongly recommend this book for anyone seeking to learn pathway issues in cancer and those who are deeply involved already. The logical wholeness of the work is worth understanding by all.