12 September 2011
ByAppeared in BioNews 624
BBC1, Monday 5 September 2011
Presented by Liz Bonnin
Presenter Liz Bonnin investigates stem cells, and their pioneering use in organ donation. Bonnin's introduction the segment covers briefly, but accurately, the 30 years worth of history of stem cell research, and the controversy around embryonic stem cell research.
Bonnin then meets with Michael Taylor; Michael suffers from heart failure. Michael is part of a pioneering study led by Professor Anthony Mathur from the London Chest Hospital. The study uses adult stem cells from the patient to repair damage to their heart. Professor Mathur explains that three million people suffer from a heart condition in the UK, and over 800,000 suffer from heart failure, just as Michael does.
The study has two strands to it: first, bone marrow is stimulated to produce more stems cells to be released into Michael's blood. Second, Professor Mathur harvests stem cells from the patient's bone marrow and injects them directly into the damaged heart tissue via the patient's arteries. Neither Professor Marthur nor Michael knows whether he is being injected with his stem cells or a placebo until the study ends next July. Michael is said to be doing well and his blood pressure is back to normal; he has also taken up cycling again.
As always, Bang Goes the Theory is well made, providing detailed scientific information in an accessible manner. It has managed, unlike other science shows, to give a clear example without being patronising. Bonnin provides excellent commentary, and at the end of the segment clearly outlines the revolutionary effect these types of treatment will have by removing the need for organ waiting lists and immunosuppressant drugs.
As a non-scientist I would strongly recommend this as a clear introduction to stem cell treatment for interested adults and children.