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Mason D, ed. (£225.00.) Oxford University Press, 2001. ISBN 019 263 25223.
This book is the edited proceedings of the seventh conference or international workshop on white cell differentiation antigens held in Harrogate UK in June 2000. Although originally confined to white cells like Topsy these meetings have grown to encompass many other related cell types, such as dendritic cells endothelial cells, platelets, and red blood cells. Originally, these meetings involved a wide range of interests from the basic science of the molecules through to their practical applications. Over the years, this has changed slowly towards the more scientific end of the spectrum and this is reflected in the contributions to this volume. In some ways it seems a little odd that pathologists, who as a group must be the biggest users of CD reagents, are little represented now at these meetings. I remember hearing a senior British pathologist, a most eminent immunocytochemist, being asked if he was attending the third or fourth meeting. Replying in the negative he cheerfully asserted that when the book arrived it would contain all he needed to know.
Well, the book of the seventh has arrived so what does it hold for pathologists? First, I don’t think one is meant to attempt to read it. This is a heavyweight tome of nearly a thousand pages. It is very well laid out in 17 sections and has an excellent index, so it is no trouble to use it as a work of reference as and when needed. In particular there is a very useful summary guide to many CD antigens at the end. Every time I used a new antibody, obtained an unusual result, or read something new I looked up this section. For those CDs covered the summary was usually good. It is a pity that it is not complete because it detracts from the comprehensiveness of this section as a reference. The chapters in the individual sections are well laid out and edited. The coverage and the detail available depends upon the individual contributions to the conference.
In summary, this is a good reference to the most recent CD conference. It is also probably the most up to date guide to these molecules and has many aspects that are of interest and use to practising pathologists. However, it is not a comprehensive work of reference and should not be bought in the hope that it could fulfil this task.