The Xeno Chronicles
Two Years on the Frontier of Medicine Inside Harvard's Transplant Research Lab
PublicAffairs, hardcover, June 2005
An unprecedented inside-the-lab look at a promising but controversial frontier of medical research raises provocative questions about medical ethics, animal experimentation, and the relationship between science and business.
Dr. David H. Sachs of the Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital is not a household name, but within medical science, he is a giant. An immunologist and surgeon, Sachs has made significant contributions in the field of organ transplantation - contributions which, some believe, might someday bring him the Nobel Prize. But Sachs's real passion-and the possibility for a revolution in medicine-lays in his work in xenotransplantation: using animal parts to treat sick people. Untold thousands of people die every year waiting for the traditional transplant, in which human organs are used - and xenotransplantation might save them. It could also lead to a multi-billion-dollar business. The government and outside companies have invested millions of dollars in Sachs's work in the hopes of staking a lucrative claim in the future of medicine.
As The Xeno Chronicles begins, Sachs's decades of work and hopes have all converged on a genetically engineered, cloned pig named Goldie, whose organs have been designed not to be rejected by their recipients. And so experiments begin, with organs from Goldie and similar pigs being transplanted into baboons, a rarefied research that only a handful of scientists are engaged in. Just as Sachs begins to get unprecedented results, he loses his biggest financial support and the collaboration of an important outside lab. He is almost 62. Time and money are starting to run out....
G. Wayne Miller's absorbing, dramatic narrative account of a brilliant scientist's attempts to achieve a breakthrough offers an illuminating look into the minds, hearts, labs, and practical realities of those on the very forefront of medical science. Based on exclusive and unprecedented inside-the-lab access, The Xeno Chronicles clarifies both how science works and the ethical issues it raises through an absorbing human story and intimate portrait of Sachs, his colleagues, and patients.