The use of embryonic stem cells has ignited fierce debate across the spiritual and political spectrum. But what if we could create manmade stem cells - or find super cells in adults that could forever replace embryonic cells and remove the controversy? Today, we are on the brink of a new era - an age where we may be able to cure our bodies of any illness. Stephen Hawking has spent his life exploring the mysteries of the cosmos, now there is another universe that fascinates him - the one hidden inside our bodies - our own personal galaxies of cells. Hawking takes us on a fascinating journey exploring what these wondrous and baffling mechanisms are capable of. He is joined by the scientists who are on the front lines of discovery in this field including Dr. Doris Taylor who is customizing a donor's heart with the recipient's stem cells - her goal is to revolutionize heart transplants, Dr. Paul Lu and Dr. Mark Tuszynski may have created a breakthrough that could cure paralysis, and Dr. Vincent Giampapa who believes that stem cells can be used to stem the tide of aging and create a fountain of youth.
Many clinical trials target the nation's most acute health issues. With deaths from liver disease soaring by 40 per cent in a decade, more and more patients are waiting for vital liver transplants. There is a shortage of organ donors and many donated organs are rejected as only those in excellent condition are considered suitable for a transplant procedure. Surgeons Richard Laing and Thamara Perera are part of a team at QEHB trialling a revolutionary way to tackle this crisis, by maximising the number of donor organs that can be safely re-used. The film follows the trial every step of the way, as Richard receives a donor liver that would usually be rejected and tries to prove it is viable for transplant by rejuvenating and testing it on a perfusion machine. This machine sustains the liver by mimicking the supply of blood, oxygen and nutrients an organ receives inside a live, healthy human body. Once the donor liver has proved itself fit for transplant, the surgical team start to remove grandmother Connie O'Driscoll's severely diseased liver. Once the donor liver has been disconnected from the perfusion machine, they have just 20 minutes to place it in Connie's body and plumb it into the complex and delicate network of hepatic blood vessels.
Gloria and Chris settle the argument over whether tea and coffee are good or bad for us - and if the same is true for both. There is also the truth about a food often touted as a way to fight cancer. And, after reports suggesting reusing plastic water bottles is a bad idea, tests reveal if we should be using a fresh one every time.
Two procedures so formidable, they would not have been attempted even a few years ago. Surgical teams at the Queen Elizabeth are constantly pushing the limits of what is possible. But despite state-of-the-art diagnostic scanning, sometimes cancer surgeons don't know exactly what they are up against until they open the patient up on the operating table. Even with the most meticulous planning, sometimes they must resort to taking critical decisions live in the theatre. 74-year-old Jasmine Harkness has been referred to the specialist sarcoma unit with a vast tumour in her abdomen, weighing more than three stone - a third of her total body weight. It is consuming her, displacing organs including her stomach and liver. Unless it can be removed, she has just four weeks to live. Sarcoma specialists Sam Ford and Professor David Gourevitch can't be sure whether they will be able to save Jasmine until they open her up and inspect her anatomy. Such is the risk of this surgery - five years ago they would not have embarked on this intervention. Sue Sinclair, lead anaesthetist and matriarch of theatre, keeps the others in check - working alongside them as they battle to detach the tumour from Jasmine's organs and blood vessels, and remove it intact. Whenever it presses heavily on vital blood vessels, Jasmine's blood pressure plummets, placing her life in grave danger. It will take unwavering focus to keep her alive. The tumour has grown so invasively that it has crushed and displaced Jasmine's internal organs. Sam and David have a puzzle on their hands to identify what and where everything is. At times, dark humour is the only way to release the tension as they grapple with blood, guts and mind-boggling complexity.
Our lifespan is increasing by 2.5 years every decade - and a third of all babies born today can expect to live to 100. But living longer can come at a cost. Old age itself brings with it a range of debilitating illnesses, many of which are the result of accumulating damage during our lifetime. Three diseases in particular have become the main killers in the developed world - cancer, heart disease and dementia. But a revolution in bio-medicine is now offering new hope for the treatment of these ailments, and the potential to extend our lives still further. Methods such as gene editing and stem cell therapies are transforming the way medicine can conquer disease today. These extreme frontiers of medicine do, however, also come with a range of ethical dilemmas - when is the right time to try out an experimental technique on a patient? Should we gene edit human embryos? And is it right to use cells from aborted foetuses for medical treatments?
By the middle of January many people struggle to keep up their resolutions to be more active. The result is that the UK wastes nearly £600 million a year on unused gym memberships. But new science has the answers. Medical journalist Michael Mosley teams up with scientists whose latest research is turning common knowledge about fitness on its head. They reveal why 10,000 steps is just a marketing ploy and that two minutes of exercise is all a person needs each week. They discover how to get people to stick to their fitness plans and what exercise can actually make everyone more intelligent. Whether it is for couch potatoes who hate the thought of exercise, someone too busy to consider the gym, or even for fitness fanatics who are desperate to do more - science can help everyone exercise better.
2020 • Health