David Pollen pollen at ginger.Princeton.EDU
Thu Aug 5 03:41:51 EST 1993


HANNAH'S HEIRS:  The Quest for the Genetic Origins
                 of Alzheimer's Disease

by Daniel A. Pollen, M.D. Professor of Neurology and Physiology at the
University of Massachusetts Medical Center

ISBN:  0-19-506809-2

SUBJECT MATTER:  Alzheimer's Disease (primarily Familial form),
                 Molecular Genetics,
                 Modern Scientific Method,
                 Human Aspirations.

200 Madison Avenue
New York, N.Y. 10016
(212) 679-7300
For information from Oxford, contact Amelia Durand at extension 7354

Contact Author INDIRECTLY by email:  lowell at ummed.edu 
Network posting by:  pollen at math.princeton.edu (NOT THE AUTHOR) 

      "High technology and human tragedy; luck and persistence;
      altruism and competition -- they all come together in this
      absorbing tale of medical detection that spans decades and
      crosses continents . . . An exciting story that reveals
      much about how science is done -- and that says something
      affirmative about the human spirit as well."
                           -- Kirkus Review (May 1, 1993)

In the late 1800's, in the Ukrainian town of Ekaterinoslav, Hannah,
a woman only in her forties, began suffering from progressive memory
loss and eventually became unable to care for herself.  What seemed
an isolated incident remained unexplained at her death in the
1890's.  Years later, Hannah's Grandson Charles, a physician, spurred
by his painful observations that many members of his family were
all suffering from the same disease, began charting the
family's medical history over five generations.  In 1985, when
this pedigree -- one of the most extensive of its kind -- fortuitously
fell into the caring hands of neurologist Dr. Daniel Pollen, Hannah's
family would find themselves immersed in one of the most enduring
scientific searches of the century -- the quest for the Alzheimer's
disease genes.

HANNAH'S HEIRS: The Quest for the Genetic Origins of Alzheimer's
Disease by Daniel Pollen (June 24, 1993/ 296 pgs / $25.00) is
the inspiring, true story, of a courageous family and their efforts
to confront and overcome a "personal biological Holocaust."  The
story chronicles the way in which Alzheimer's was first identified,
how this disease has perplexed the modern scientific community, and
how researchers have come closer to finding the cause and treatment
of Alzheimer's disease.  Set within the larger context of the efforts
to solve the mysteries of this disease, HANNAH'S HEIRS is a gripping
story of one family's descendants caught in a race against this mind-
altering affliction, not knowing whether they will succumb to, or
escape, its overwhelming grasp.

Over the course of 150 years, Pollen traces several hundred of Hannah's
remarkable descendants, and reveals this unique family's extraordinary
courage and their remarkable contributions to science and to humanity.
He gives a clear account of the advances in modern molecular genetics
and the neurological sciences as he follows researchers in these
fields as they race to solve the remaining mysteries of Alzheimer's

Pollen presents the foundations of modern genetic research, from
Gregor Mendel's classic discovery of genes, to Alois Alzheimer's
work on the brains of presenile dementia victims, to Watson and
Crick's double helix model for the structure of DNA.
At the same time, Pollen offers a penetrating look at the ongoing
conflicts involved in scientific research, revealing how intense
competition for prestige and funding has driven some scientists
to hoard precious cell lines.  These practices have impeded efforts
to discover both the causes and the treatments of Alzheimer's in
the shortest possible time.

Pollen concludes this story with the recent dramatic breakthrough in
Alzheimer's research on September 21, 1992 when Peter St. George-Hyslop
decisively linked the abnormal gene among the afflicted of Hannah's
family to a marker on a long arm of chromosome 14. This finding has
established evidence of a connection between familial Alzheimer's
disease to chromosome 14 and suggests that there will be further
sightings on this strand.  Research has shown that the chromosome
14 linkage site comprises the major locus of the majority of families
with early-onset Alzheimer's disease genes.  These findings have
opened the door to early genetic testing for at-risk relatives
of Alzheimer's patients and could possible lead to a gene
mutation to prevent the disease to at-risk relatives in the future.

HANNAH'S HEIRS is a story for those who have seen first hand the horrors
of Alzheimer's and are concerned with the genetic path of this
disease and it is for those interested in a modern scientific mystery
story with strong historical roots.  Pollen's is an engrossing
and inspiring account of this genetic abnormality and its affect on
one family that will grab hold and take the reader on a journey
through the spiritual and scientific world.  In the word's of Ben,
Hannah's great-grandson, "This is a story that had to be told.  Our
aspirations were transcendent, but because it involved people it 
could not be told without tears."

      (Above text from Oxford University Press News Release.)

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