Book Excerpt from p53

In Chapter 12, "Of Mice and Men," author Sue Armstrong recounts the point at which researchers moved from working with p53 in tissue culture to studying the gene in animal models.

Sue Armstrong
Mar 31, 2015

BLOOMSBURY SIGMA, FEBRUARY 2015In the long history of p53, huge amounts of data have been generated by scientists poring over little scraps of tissue and clusters of cells in test tubes and Petri dishes—specimens that have been coaxed and manipulated in super-controlled environments. “These [systems] are easy and convenient, but they’re not the real world,” says David Lane, co-discoverer of the gene in 1979, sounding a note of caution. “The more I look at p53, the more I realise that in the real world it’s operating at a very different level and in a different sort of way.” Tissue culture itself puts cells under stress and p53 into a state of alert, he says, and rather than studying the difference between active and inactive protein, what most researchers are in fact studying is the difference between very active and moderately active protein. Experiments using animal models...

Excerpted from p53: The Gene that Cracked the Cancer Code by Sue Armstrong. Copyright © 2015 by Sue Armstrong. With permission of the publisher, Bloomsbury Sigma, Inc. All rights reserved.