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O’Connell J, ed. ($99.50.) Humana Press, 2002. ISBN 0 89603 875 0.
Another addition to the Methods in Molecular Biology series and this one does exactly what it says on the cover. Although basically a recipe book, it has a useful introduction that succinctly describes a range of applications for the reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) and the major practical points of its undertaking. In addition, there are brief reviews of current methodologies for quantitative RT-PCR and also the detection and quantitation of hepatitis C virus RNA—clinically and commercially—one of the most important applications of RT-PCR. The rest of the volume, reasonably enough, is given over to specific protocols. There are sections covering RNA detection and various quantitation methods, and others concerning mRNA in situ localisation and its differential expression (of particular importance in the study of malignancy). If you have the talent and the inclination you may be interested in the applications of RT-PCR for genetic analysis, immunology, antisense technology, and cDNA cloning. Theoretically, all chapters provide more or less sufficient information for any reasonably skilful scientist to reproduce the results, although actually this is often down to personal flair. Diagrams are sometimes provided; many of them are comprehensible. Sadly, the section concerning the detection of RNA viruses is confined to hepatitis C, although I suppose the trick is to extrapolate the techniques to other viruses. Oddly, the section referring to in situ localisation includes a protocol for the detection of Mycobacterium paratuberculosis DNA with never a mention of RNA, much less RT-PCR. The obvious appeal of this volume is to nervous neophytes attempting RT-PCR for the first time, or more practised groups or individuals wishing to widen their horizons. In addition, the generally clear and concise introductions, to the book itself and to each protocol, provide useful explanations for those bewildered by the molecular biology techniques they may find mentioned in the literature.