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Publisher's Summary

"Elaborating on the science as well as the business behind the fight against cystic fibrosis, Trivedi captures the emotions of the families, doctors, and scientists involved in the clinical trials and their 'weeping with joy' as new drugs are approved, and shows how cystic fibrosis, once a 'death sentence,' became, for many, a manageable condition. This is a rewarding and challenging work." --Publishers Weekly

Cystic fibrosis was once a mysterious disease that killed infants and children. Now it could be the key to healing millions with genetic diseases of every type - from Alzheimer's and Parkinson's to diabetes and sickle cell anemia.

In 1974, Joey O'Donnell was born with strange symptoms. His insatiable appetite, incessant vomiting, and a relentless cough - which shook his tiny, fragile body and made it difficult to draw breath - confounded doctors and caused his parents agonizing, sleepless nights. After six sickly months, his salty skin provided the critical clue: he was one of thousands of Americans with cystic fibrosis, an inherited lung disorder that would most likely kill him before his first birthday. 

The gene and mutation responsible for CF were found in 1989 - discoveries that promised to lead to a cure for kids like Joey. But treatments unexpectedly failed and CF was deemed incurable. It was only after the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, a grassroots organization founded by parents, formed an unprecedented partnership with a fledgling biotech company that transformative leaps in drug development were harnessed to produce groundbreaking new treatments: pills that could fix the crippled protein at the root of this deadly disease. 

From science writer Bijal P. Trivedi, Breath from Salt chronicles the riveting saga of cystic fibrosis, from its ancient origins to its identification in the dank autopsy room of a hospital basement, and from the CF gene's celebrated status as one of the first human disease genes ever discovered to the groundbreaking targeted genetic therapies that now promise to cure it. 

Told from the perspectives of the patients, families, physicians, scientists, and philanthropists fighting on the front lines, Breath from Salt is a remarkable story of unlikely scientific and medical firsts, of setbacks and successes, and of people who refused to give up hope - and a fascinating peek into the future of genetics and medicine.

©2020 Bijal P. Trivedi (P)2020 Brilliance Publishing, Inc., all rights reserved.

What listeners say about Breath from Salt

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Breathtaking and Audacious

It is a story of grit and hope.. To find a cure for majority of cystic fibrosis through venture philanthropy, high technology and highly driven and tough professionals. It connected a lot of dots for me regarding precision medicine and personalized medicine coming into vogue now.. It's technical at times (which i enjoyed) and runs like a thriller.

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An eye opening book

How a new disease is discovered, researched upon and an absolutely new treatment is found, all along with enormous efforts of patients families and a great network raising enormous amounts of money is an eye opener to what can be done for existing rare diseases to get a cure. A motivating read. Congratulations to the CF foundation, Vertex scientists and everyone involved in this fight against cystic fibrosis for a cure. A great book and great narration.

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  • Graham
  • 02-04-21

Very long book!

I thought that this book would never end! It included so much detail about fundraising, all the personalities who were very Involved. Even though the narrator read like the wind it was still interminable. I do not mean to demean the agony that the families and victims went through, but I think that the general reading public is probably not so interested in this level of detail.

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  • Suburban Homesteader
  • 19-03-21

Loved it!

Part history, part personal interest, part science.

This book was recommended to me by my niece, who is pregnant with a baby who will be born with cystic fibrosis. We have no history of this disease in our family, nor does her husband. This diagnosis was a complete shock to both families.

When she told me about this book, I was so grateful it was on Audible!

I'm even more grateful now! The author is a brilliant storyteller and sleuth, but the narrator brings the book to life! She has a delightful hint of an accent, and perfect diction, pacing, inflection and pronunciation. I literally couldn't stop listening!

Finishing the book was important, so I am up to speed with the disease our newest family member will be living with. This author and narrator made enjoying the book easy to understand and finish!

If you are interested in medicine, genetic diseases, or medical history, listen to this book!!

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  • Renny McGovern
  • 09-03-21

Thank you...

I have wanted to read this for a while related to the fact that during my career, I took care of a number of young people with cystic fibrosis dating back to about 1970 or 69... The last one was When I finally retired. I lost all of the ones from the early years but the last one survived, thrived and now it’s a mom herself! What a miracle!

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  • RW
  • 03-03-21

Fantastic highly detailed overview of the discovery of Kalydeco, Trikafta and the drive to cure Cystic Fibrosis

Incredibly captivating. Having been involved with the CFF and meeting many of the individuals highlighted in this book, it was amazing to hear more about their personal stories, the challenges along the way and the persistence by so many. Eternally grateful for the progress made by all.

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  • too good to be true
  • 25-02-21

great account of what advocacy groups can achieve

I found this account fascinating, scientifically well researched, This is a hopeful example of how determined parent groups and relentless advocacy/fund raising moved science along to reach treatment of a very vile diseases. Very inspiring.

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  • Pamela J. Blaesing
  • 19-02-21

Such a fantastic book!

I worked in a children’s hospital in the 1970’s so I was vaguely familiar with this disease. I am amazed at the author’s ability to interweave the personal stories with the scientific.., and that I was able to follow the course of research plus the financial issues. I was never lost in the science of the disease or advances nor in the vast cast of patients, parents, doctors, and researchers. Thank you for this well-told story.

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  • Jennifer G.
  • 10-02-21

Fabulous book !

Breath from Salt is a wonderful book displaying the magic and power of hope, dedication and perseverance equally shared by scientists, clinicians, parents and patients of one disease - cystic fibrosis. Miracles can happen when passionate efforts are shared with others. A true example of the adage - we are stronger together. And the belief that no one is truly alone. This book will make you reach out to others either to better yourself or to better others.
Thank you Bijal Trivedi for a job well done! And thank you to all who contributed to this book. Until It’s Done. ~ Carole

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 07-01-21

An amazing book on medical science breakthrough

What a terrific piece of work on the story of so many committed individuals who made a major medical breakthrough possible. I learned more on genetic medicine and drug discovery from this book than three years working in this area.

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  • Laly37
  • 25-04-21

Recommended by Bill Gates

It is a very interesting book. I never thought much about drug development. You hear a lot about big pharma but this was completely different. It but a face to the struggle and an emphasis on the importance of the 1% of the wealthy in drug development.

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  • Valerie
  • 24-12-20

This person, then that person

This gave me a good overview, covering for the non-specialist the various scientific and medical advances that have made such wonderful progress in treating cystic fibrosis. It also gives a lot of space to explaining the importance of mega fundraising efforts required to get the work done. This was both inspiring and nauseating, if I can put those two things together without complete contradiction.
When writing this sort of book for non-specialists, authors usually fall back on analogies to explain the science and then include a ton of biographical information about the scientists and administrators involved. This helps humanise things and can be very interesting at times. I did get a bit tired of the endless cast of characters with a 3 sentence biography towards the end of the book, but it does reflect the reality.
I really liked the narration.