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TV Review: Health Explained - How to Make Stem Cells

16 July 2012
Appeared in BioNews 665

Health Explained: How to Make Stem Cells

BBC News Health, Thursday 21 June 2012

Presented by Dr Dusko Ilic

'Health Explained: How to Make Stem Cells', BBC News Health, Thursday 21 June 2012

As a viewer I do not ask for much from a show; just to be a little informative, maybe some whimsical anecdote - unfortunately I did not even get this from this short film. Instead, what I got was two and a half minutes of footage mostly of people opening doors and looking 'sciency' to weird music.

This short video is called 'How to make stem cells' but a more accurate title might have been 'Where to make stem cells'. The film did not explain what stem cells are, or why a line of stem cells is needed. It is just a tour looking at people who are looking through microscopes. Don't get me wrong, the funky sci-fi themed music really built up some atmosphere. But the commentary, which includes a run-through of the clothing worn in the lab, left a lot to be desired. Unless the intention was to make Guy's Hospital look like the medical fashion capital of the world - watch out Paris and Milan!

Dr Dusko Ilic from the Assisted Conception Unit at Guy's Hospital, London gave the briefest of explanations of how stem cells could be used in the treatment of heart disease and diabetes followed by an awkward ending in which Dr Illic and a colleague (in full white overalls) staring longingly into the camera before they walk through yet another door (for no obvious reason), before the film ends.

I am possibly being too harsh - there were elements of interesting scientific fact, including that embryos used in research at the clinic were donated following IVF and the description of how a colony of stem cells grows. But these were washed away by the sheer agony of viewing the film. I am all for using new media and accessible formats to engage the public about the sometimes misunderstood area of stem cell research. I am just not convinced that this formant really worked this time.

11 June 2012 - by Dr Greg Ball 
Stem cell research isn't a topic you'd expect to see in a comic book, particularly when the aim is to give a realistic insight into the subject, avoiding hype and sensationalism. But that's exactly what 'Hope Beyond Hype', a graphic novel telling the story of stem cell research from discovery to therapy, intends to do...
12 March 2012 - by Professor Robin Lovell-Badge 
I am all for challenging dogma, but to do so requires robust evidence and carefully drawn conclusions. In the case of Professor Jonathan Tilly's much-trumpeted study on stem cells in ovaries that can give rise to eggs, I feel that both were missing...
27 July 2009 - by Ben Jones 
Many of the developments in the biosciences reported on in BioNews involve novel moral issues or further complicate existing ethical debates. While concerns about the efficacy or safety of a new therapy inevitably lead to calls for further action within the scientific community - more research, bigger studies, better analysis - ethical worries instead result in calls for non-specialist external validation, consultation exercises, public debate and engagement. While the public are put i
21 January 2008 - by MacKenna Roberts 
Scientists at the California biotechnology company, Stemagen, announced last week that they had successfully cloned the world's first human embryos, created from adult male skin cells. Although British scientists cloned human embryos two years ago, this is the first time that scientists have managed to grow such...
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