Books charts revolution of science of human health

A leading scientist has charted the recent and dramatic breakthroughs in our understanding of the body in a new book out today (July 1).

In The Secret Body published by Vintage Books, Professor Dan Davis from The University of Manchester tells how new biology offers boundary-breaking possibilities for intervention in the human body, from our brains and genes to our microbiomes and immune systems.

Praised by Alice Roberts, Bill Bryson and Brian Cox, the book argues that this new revolution will profoundly change the experience of being human in the coming century.

Radical possibilities, immunologist Prof Davis tells us, have been made real thanks to decades of work by scientists.

Their breakthrough discoveries are transforming our understanding of how the body works, what it is capable of and how we might manipulate it, he says.

He describes, for example, how we are now able is to find out, years in advance, if we are likely to get certain cancers.

And how biology can now give us bespoke understanding of our genes, organs and cells and make drugs that can improve our cognition and acquire new skills.

He said: “‘Everything is kicking off in human biology. Radical new insights are emerging in our understanding of cells, embryos, the human brain, the microbiome, genes and so much more. It feels to me that human biology is just like how physics was in the early 1900s, when Einstein and others opened up quantum physics.

“Nowadays, our level of understanding of the human body is incomparable to what it was just a few years ago and we’ll be living with the consequences of that for decades to come. We can already understand and manipulate ourselves in ways that, only a few decades ago, no one could have dreamed.”

He added: “These boundary-breaking possibilities will confer unprecedented powers over health, childhood development, our cognitive and physical abilities, and affect every aspect of how we live our lives and think about ourselves.”

“And we all will face previously unthinkable choices with consequences we have yet to understand.”

A How To Academy, discussion with Robin Ince takes place on book launch day July 1. Public lecture at The Royal Institution, July 6

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