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TV Review: Bang Goes the Theory

12 September 2011
Appeared in BioNews 624

Bang Goes the Theory

BBC1, Monday 5 September 2011

Presented by Liz Bonnin

'Bang Goes the Theory', 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.

Bang Goes the Theory, Series 5, Episode 4
BBC |  8 September 2011
5 September 2011 - by Dr Zara Mahmoud 
Exposure to a youthful environment may help old cells feel alive again – as the work of Professor Xiaodong Chen and co-workers from the University of Texas Health Science Center, USA, suggests...
18 July 2011 - by Rosemary Paxman 
A tooth grown from stem cells and successfully implanted into the jaw of a mouse has been hailed as a step towards the development of human organs grown from a patient's own cells...
11 July 2011 - by Dr Rebecca Robey 
Surgeons have successfully transplanted a synthetic organ into a human for the first time. In a groundbreaking operation, a cancer patient's windpipe was replaced with an artificial replica that had been grown using his own stem cells....
23 May 2011 - by Dr Rebecca Robey 
IPS (induced pluripotent stem) cells from mice can be recognised by their own immune system and destroyed, scientists at the University of California, San Diego, have found...
18 April 2011 - by Dr Rosie Morley 
Scientists at Edinburgh University have grown kidney structures in the laboratory in a step they hope will lead to organs being grown for transplant patients from their own stem cells...
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