Peptide Chemistry: A Practical Textbook

Peptide Chemistry: A Practical Textbook

164 function. The use of cytochemical techniques employing specific antibodies, enzyme substrates, stains and radioisotopes is described in some detai...

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164 function. The use of cytochemical techniques employing specific antibodies, enzyme substrates, stains and radioisotopes is described in some detail. The isolation of subcellular organelles as well as the isolation and characterization of the macromolecules from which they are constructed are taken as examples for the extremely powerful tools we have now in this field of investigation. These descriptions of methods are easily understandable and convincing. Each chapter closes with suggested readings which are divided into books and articles and the references given are very well selected up to 1986 and in some cases up to 1987. Altogether, this is a very readable, modern introduction to the rapidly growing field of cell biology.

to its possible value. Yet other important aspects of hybridoma methodology get little coverage, eg how to optimize solid phase screening assays, how to establish monoclonality; or how to define the isotype. The book is not without merit. It contains quite a lot of helpful information, is well indexed and has an extensive bibliography covering a wide range of immunochemical techniques. But there are several other recent books in this same field which might well meet a reader’s needs more effectively than this one. John Kenny

Peter Bohley Maureen

Immunochemical Biology

Methods in Cell and Molecular

R J Mayer and J H Walker. London. 1987. f26

pp 325. Academic Press, ISBN O-12-480855-7

The market for new cookery books is insatiable and their popularity does not necessarily relate to any real need or to any serious intention by the buyer to try out the recipes. Publishers may view scientific methods books in the same light, with an element of truth in so far as it often seems easier to justify their purchase than other categories of books. However, they are usually bought with serious intent to provide easy and quick access to tried and tested methods for which there is a need in the laboratory. This volume in the Biological Techniques Series is not strictly a new book. Although no hint is given in either the Preface or Introduction, it turns out to be an enlarged and revised version of the authors’ earlier volume published in 1980 with a less trendy title: ‘Immunochemical Methods in the Biological Sciences: Enzymes and Proteins’. The main changes are some new sections on immunohistochemistry, monoclonal antibodies and synthetic peptides. The Technical Supplement is also enlarged and more than half is new material. For the rest much of the original text is retained, as is the format - twothirds is given to chapters which review the background of the methods, especially their purpose, discuss various different approaches, show examples of results and in some cases describe ‘case histories’, The reader will not find much in the way of detailed protocols in these chapters, the practical details being saved for the Technical Supplement. This separation of background from protocols is the main weakness of the book. Users turn to books of this kind with clear ideas on why they need to employ the method and what information they expect to obtain. Ideally, what they hope to find are clearly written protocols, critically assessed and with some examples illustrating the results. To some extent the diligent reader may find all the information needed, but the background information is a mixture based on personal experience and information culled from the literature and the guidelines are not always clear. Too much space is given to material of doubtful value. About half of the chapter on monoclonal antibodies, 80 pages in length, is given to a discussion of the uses of monoclonal antibodies including 23 pages of Tables listing examples with details of immunogens, myeloma cell lines, screening assay, etc. Although scores of monoclonal antibodies are thus referenced, the list cannot begin to be truly comprehensive and does not lead to any obvious conclusions or lessons and the labour in compiling the list (perhaps by someone for his or her thesis) is out of all proportion




pp 42. Continuing Series, MSC Open Tech and Manchester. 1987 ISBN o-948910-06-2

A short text for nurses and essentially free of chemistry, this book would be useful for high school, early college or university. Its didactic style is worth looking at, or even copying. It poses questions (“Why did you get three colds last year, but measles only once in a lifetime?“) and answers them, in a friendly style, with in-text questions. It is divided into three sections: (1) Non-specific or innate immunity, (2) Specific immunity, concentrating more on immunization and with nothing on Ig structure, and (3) Aberrant immunity, as far as possible relating to the everyday life of a nurse, including allergy, autoimmune diseases, asthma, blood groups and patient management. The (admittedly simplified) sections on cellular immunity, leading to an explanation of leukemias, etc, are well done. There is a Glossary, although students might find it difficult to distinguish IgG and ‘yglobulin’, and antigen from immunogen. Nevertheless, nicely written and produced and very well aware of the problems and interests of its readership. K Black

Peptide Chemistry: A Practical Textbook by M Bodansky. 1988. DM48

pp 200. Springer-Verlag, Heidelberg. ISBN 3-540-18984-X

The author of this small book considers that peptide chemistry is treated as an orphan both in chemistry and in biochemistry textbooks - a topic disposed of in a few pages. While agreeing that there are good reasons for this, he attempts to put it right by offering this book which came out of his graduate course on Peptide Chemistry, there being no suitable textbook, he believes. The book is divided into two parts: (1) Structure Determination, and (2) Peptide Synthesis. One suspects that at the research level each section is likely to have its own different audience. Part one deals with amino acid analysis (briefly) and then sequence determination, and secondary and tertiary structure determination. Under sequence determination, I really do think it should be made very clear to students that although Sanger’s reagent is a very nice illustration of how to determine N-termini, no one has used it in a research lab for 20 years. Surely the Edman degradation with automatic sequencing should take pride of place in any discussion of this sort, closely

165 followed by the strategy for cleaving large peptides into small ones. In spite of what the author says, there is not much in this chapter that couldn’t be found in the average textbook of biochemistry and certainly hardly offers a revolutionary approach. Similarly the brief chapter on secondary and tertiary structure offers little that is not already in biochemistry textbooks. The second part on Peptide Synthesis, is potentially the more interesting and useful generally, although perhaps less so for the average biochemist or biochemistry student. It forms the larger part of the book (ca 150 pages) and deals with coupling and blocking and so on. Solid phase synthesis gets quite a detailed treatment, but overall this section is more for the chemist. In total, then the book would be of more interest to the chemistry than the biochemistry student. Obviously young researchers entering the area of peptide chemistry and especially synthesis, would find the book valuable. However there are much better texts on sequencing, and it is certainly not a practical book in the sense of offering practical recipes for doing

experiments. K. Savage

53 Interesting Things To Do in Your Seminars and Tutorials, and 53 Interesting Ways to Appraise Your Teaching by S Habeshaw, T Habeshaw and G Gibbs. pp 135 and pp 160. Technical and Educational Services, available from Harper & Row Distribution Ltd, Estover, Plymouth PL6 7PZ, UK. 1989. f6.95/f7.95 ISBN O-947885-06-4 ISBN 0-947885-02-l These are two books in the Interesting Ways to Teach series intended for teachers in Further or Higher Education. Though not written specifically for teachers of biochemistry, they should prove useful for such teachers who would like some suggestions as to how they can put more life and variety into their teaching activities. The first book deals with seminars (ie sessions during which one or more students present papers they have prepared to a class) and tutorials (which usually involve recitation, discussion, and problem-based or question-based activity led by a lecturer or teaching assistant). The former are usually restricted to the final honours year, while the latter are common activities at most levels of a Biochemistry degree program. Especially valuable is the material presented in the sections on Group Work, Encouraging Students To Participate, and Encouraging Students to Take Responsibility. In brief and direct style, frequently in items or chapters that are one or two pages long, a statement of the problem or issue addressed is given, and is followed by a description of the method. The latter may include examples and suggestions for dealing with possible difficulties in the use of the method. Those who are new to the responsibility of leading (or directing) student tutorial or seminar groups will benefit from the practical suggestions made here. Cross-referencing of items enhances the usefulness of this book. The material of the second book also comprises 53 items but these are concerned with the appraisal of teaching. The seven sections focus on: (i) questionnaires, (ii) interviews and discussions, (iii) video and audio recordings, (iv) help from colleagues, (v) appraisal evidence, (vi) collecting evidence, and (vii) appraisal interviews. Again many practical suggestions are made, and a number of specimens of devices for the appraisal of teaching (mostly produced in British Universities) are included. These will probably be among the most interesting contributions that the book makes to teachers. F Vella


Alternatives to Animal Use in Research, Testing and Education Produced by Office of Technology Assessment, Congress of the US. pp 456. Marcel Dekker, New York. 1988. $59.75 ISBN 0-8247-7977-O The title of this extensive book is self-explanatory. Although the ethical issues may be common to all countries, the legislation discussed is American. One section, however, looks at the situation in a number of other countries. The reason for this book is obvious: to quote: “in the name of science 150 living creatures are sacrificed every minute”. And, “it is unlikely that any of the 127 medical schools in the US train physicians without using any live animals”. The book is extensive and exhaustive. The first chapter gives a Summary, with Policy Issues and Policy Options for Congressional Action. The report essentially covers three kinds of animal use: research, testing of products for toxicity, and education (at all levels). Under Education are considered alternatives to animals, including computer simulation. The use of interactive videodisc programmes is commended but it is admitted that such technology is expensive and not widely available. It is impossible to summarise the content and attitude of the book, if there is an ‘attitude’. It is clear however that we in education are being forced to think more objecrively about our use of animals, which is not a bad thing, and to curb their use as much as possible within achieving the objectives of the particular training. This book provides vast amounts of both data and arguments to help us to be more objective.

Letter to the Editor Teaching Biochemistry for the 21st Century Dear Sir, ‘Frailty, thy name is woman’. In spite of that I went through ‘Teaching Biochemistry for the 21st century’ by F. Vella, presented at the Educational Symposium on 10th July, 1988 at the 14th International Congress of Biochemistry, Prague.* The major idea was to peep into 21st century under the guidance of a 20th century expert. The quoting (occupying a significant part of the text) as well as the nonquoting regions are obstinately silent about the 21st century. Suddenly I remembered of Shakespeare who is still alive or will remain alive through his writings through the 21st century and his saying ‘What’s in a name?’ Frankly, veiled discussion of happenings in biochemical education in 21st century make us wonder what shall we do in the remaining part of the present century, e.g. follow one of the two developed theories as suggested by the author? The travelling theory (on the part of the teacher) may be better. There are underdeveloped and developing regions for travel. In any case we have to wait for the peaceful end of the 20th century and ceremonial start of biochemical education in 21st century to get the proper answer. Yours faithfully D P Burma Molecular Biology Unit Instituteof Medical Sciences Banaras Hindu University Varana.+22IOOS, UP, India l

Reprinted in BiochemicalEducation17, 6 (1989).