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Robert Bazell is the chief science correspondent for NBC News. His reports, which appear on the NBC Nightly News, Today, and Dateline NBC, have won every major award in broadcasting. He has written for many publications, including The New Republic, The New York Times, and The New York Times Magazine. He lives in New York with his wife, Margot, and daughter, Stephanie.


Bazell, the chief science correspondent for NBC News, chronicles the discovery and manufacture of Herceptin, a monoclonal antibody that attacks breast cancer on the genetic level, without the toxic side effects of chemotherapy or radiation. This major breakthrough in breast cancer treatment has already shown great promise in shrinking tumors and lengthening disease remission. Briefly, Herceptin is able to inactivate the her-2/neu protein, which causes the excessive growth rate of the cancer cells and is present in the genes of about 25 to 30 percent of all breast cancers. Currently fast-tracked by the FDA for approval, Herceptin should be available this fall. Bazell provides a fascinating and often heroic account of the people (including oncologist Dennis Slamon and Lily Tartikoff, Brandon Tartikoff's widow, who raised millions to fund Slamon's research) and the process involved in bringing this discovery from the lab to the market. His meticulous research and well-written history of the personal, political, and economic struggles encountered by patients, researchers, oncologists, and activists is a significant and exciting contribution to the health literature. Highly recommended for all collections. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 6/1/98.]‘Gail Hendler, New York Acad. of Medicine, New York

The drama of medical research and breakthrough comes alive in this admirably objective report from the veteran chief science correspondent for NBC News on a promising advance in the treatment of breast cancer. Based on the once-shunned use of antibodies in cancer treatment, the breakthrough has come about, Bazell explains, through the efforts of biotechnologists, medical researchers, clinical doctors and patients who have participated in experimental trials, as well as through the work of aggressive political activists and fund-raisers. Bazell paints a complete picture of the development of the nontoxic "miracle" drug known as Herceptin, which purportedly halts and reverses the "overexpressed Her-2 protein" affecting 30% of breast cancer patients, shrinking and even eliminating spreading tumors. The author follows the divergent viewpoints of various involved parties, including Dennis Slamon, the UCLA researcher who for too long tried in vain to convince top cancer specialists to support his theory and proposed trials; officials at Genentech, the biotechnology company that will produce the drug; and women whose breast cancer was treated in experimental trials. Their stories create a balanced and deeply informative look into the world of medical research, into the cutthroat competition for credit that arises when breakthroughs occur and into the psyches of patients who learn that they must fight for even a slim chance at hope. Editor, Ann Godoff; agent, Suzanne Gluck; author tour. (Sept.)

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