A Commotion in the Blood: Life, Death, and the Immune System. Stephen S. Hall. Henry Holt & Company.

A Commotion in the Blood: Life, Death, and the Immune System Book Cover A Commotion in the Blood: Life, Death, and the Immune System
Stephen S. Hall
Henry Holt & Company
June 1997

We are in the midst of a quiet revolution in medicine called immunotherapy, a form of medicine that takes its lessons from the very bodies it seeks to treat. Employing the immune system’s cells, its molecules, its hormones, its intricate interactions, and its exquisite timing, immunological methods are now employed to treat cancer, AIDS, chronic viral diseases, and other ailments.

Beginning with the “occasional miracles” of a mysterious turn-of-the-century cancer vaccine called Coley’s toxins, Steven S. Hall traces the story of how doctors have learned to use the immune system and its “commotions,” as one physician put it, to develop a wide array of cutting-edge therapies. Traveling between laboratory and bedside, Hall’s absorbing narrative navigates the politics of discovery and explains the dazzling complexities of human blood, tracking the potent molecules and powerful cells at the heart of the immune response. As Hall proceeds across continents and time, he discusses interferon, tumor necrosis factors, and the newest and most promising substances to trigger a “commotion,” such as interleukin-2. From the author of “the best book written about the new age of biology” (Nobel Prize winner Philip Sharp) comes this fast-based account of medicine-in-the-making, part of the Sloan Foundation Technology series.

Steven S. Hall is the author of the critically acclaimed Invisible Frontiers and Mapping the Next Millennium. He has published several cover stories in The New York Times Magazine and has written for Smithsonian, Hippocrates, National Geographic Publications, Science, Health, and The Atlantic Monthly. He lives in Brooklyn with his wife and daughter.