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Sinclair J, ed. ($69.50.) Humana Press, 1999. ISBN 0 896 03749 5.
The more we learn about human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) infections, the more it becomes apparent that this herpesvirus can cause important problems in humans. As a clinical virologist, I looked forward to reading this book, which was written by a panel of expert, international researchers. Their remit to provide comprehensive protocols to cover cellular and molecular techniques for HCMV was ambitious, but is something that is needed.
The layout of each chapter is logical, with a brief introduction and then the protocol under three headings (materials, methods, and notes). Unfortunately, this is my first criticism. If the intention is to provide a protocol manual for use in the laboratory, it is inconvenient to have to jump pages to follow one technique. It would have made much more sense to have the complete protocol described in one section rather than in three separate sections.
The protocols are excellent, with considerable detail. The materials sections are useful in referring to commercial manufacturers of key products. The notes section is a great practical idea and gives valuable additional information on the techniques. My second criticism is that, at times, a considerable degree of prior knowledge and experience is assumed, especially in the more complex molecular biology techniques. Some guidance on the interpretation of the results of each protocol would also have been useful. As with any book on protocols, occasionally, crucial information seems to be missing—for example, how to determine a cut off point for a serological assay.
For a virology diagnostic laboratory in the UK, only a few protocols would be relevant. This book is primarily aimed at those doing virology research, but is an indicator of the speed of development of molecular biological techniques. Amazingly, for a book of protocols, it was an enjoyable read.