Hear firsthand from individuals struggling with addiction and follow the cutting-edge work of doctors and scientists as they investigate why addiction is not a moral failing, but a chronic, treatable medical condition. Easy access to drugs like heroin, fentanyl, and even prescription medications like OxyContin has fueled an epidemic of addiction - the deadliest in US history. Now, science is revealing how addiction affects the brain, and top experts are gathering evidence about how we should address our drug problem, from embracing evidence-based treatments, to rethinking public policies.
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.
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.
Specialist maxillofacial surgeons Tim Martin and Sat Parmar prepare for a marathon operation on 53-year-old Teresa. Four weeks ago, Teresa was diagnosed with a fast-growing cancerous tumour in her face and she will die within weeks unless it is removed. The procedure involves radical surgery to the entire right-hand side of her face, and means she will lose both her upper jaw and right eye. It is an enormous undertaking for Teresa, and for Tim and Sat, too. Using 3D imaging, the team plan how to remove the tumour and, most importantly, how they will rebuild Teresa's face. Tim and Sat are all too aware that whilst removing the tumour will save her life, it will be devastating if she is left disfigured and unable to face the world. To give her the best possible outcome, they intend to fill the cavity left in Teresa's face with a section of bone and muscle removed from her hip, using a 3D-printed plastic guide that helps them cut out the correct shape bone.
In this episode of NOVA scienceNOW, journey back in time to the birth of our solar system to examine whether the key to our planet's existence might have been the explosive shockwave of an ancient supernova. Meet a chemist who has yielded a new kind of "recipe" for natural processes to assemble and create the building blocks of life. And see how the head louse, a creepy critter that's been sucking our blood for millions of years, is offering clues about our evolution. Finally, meet neuroscientist André Fenton, who is looking into erasing painful memories with an injection.
On July 14, 2015, the New Horizons spacecraft, one of the most advanced ever built, is scheduled to fly by Pluto to take the very first detailed images of the dwarf planet. After nine years and 3 billion miles, we will finally get a close look at this strange, icy world, but only if the craft can survive the final, treacherous leg of its journey, which could take it through a dangerous field of debris.
Michael Mosley investigates the dramatic rise in e-cigarettes. They're everywhere these days, but what does the latest scientific research on them reveal? Michael reveals what e-cigarettes are really doing to your health. Are they really better for you than cigarettes? What is actually in them? Is passive vapour harmful? And can they really stop you from smoking? Michael meets some of the scientists around the world studying them, asks a group of volunteers to try to give up smoking regular cigarettes using them, and even takes up 'vaping' himself, smoking an e-cigarette every day for a month to see the effects on his own health - no easy task for such a committed non-smoker.
In recent years, eating has become a health hazard. We love our potato chips, candy, and fast food…however bad they are for our health. And we still continue to consume these products in ever greater quantities. After the war on tobacco, a new battle is underway: the fight for healthier food. So, why do we consume so much processed food and why are we so hooked on it? How exactly does the relentless agribusiness keep us coming back for more? How does it mold our tastes, influence our cravings and feed our addictions? The few independent researchers who dare raise concerns about processed food are often ignored. Opposite them, the giant multinationals who fund the majority of research into nutrition are highly organized, and present at every level of decision-making. They are even involved in government campaigns on nutrition and health. Remi, our French-American reporter, will investigate current eating habits in Europe and America, and meet those involved in this new global food war. We will hear from scientists tracking sugar addiction, the businessmen playing on our weaknesses, legal experts preparing to challenge the might of the industry, and simple lovers of good food. A compelling documentary that reveals the latest ways the agribusiness is trying to tempt us, and the ways we as consumers can try to resist.
2013 • Health
Fresh or processed, white or red - how does meat measure up? It's been getting a lot of bad press recently with new links to cancer and heart disease. But 98 per cent of us in the UK are still meat eaters. Chris Bavin, a greengrocer by trade and a carnivore by nature, wants to know if he can keep meat in his diet and stay healthy. He teams up with top scientists to put meat under the microscope and examine it as never before. They follow 40 volunteers on a groundbreaking study to find out exactly how much meat is good for us, test whether paying more for chicken makes it any better for us, discover a way to dramatically reduce the health risks associated with processed meats and reveal an unlikely lean supermeat that won't break the bank.
2016 • Health
We hear about calories all the time: How many calories are in this cookie? How many are burned by doing 100 jumping jacks, or long-distance running, or fidgeting? But what is a calorie, really? And how many of them do we actually need? Emma Bryce explains how a few different factors should go into determining the recommended amount for each person.
The Ebola virus. No-one knows exactly where it comes from but one thing is certain - it's one of the most virulent infections known to science. This special episode of Horizon meets the scientists and doctors from all around the world looking for the cure and hears first-hand accounts of what it's actually like to catch - and survive - this terrible disease.
Michael explores the final months of foetal development - a time when infants grow strong and develop the vital survival tools they need to take their first breath. He meets a girl born with a rare disorder who was saved from the brink of death by a drug trial that made medical history by creating manufactured bone for the first time, examines the results of a study by Dr Suzanne King into whether unborn children can be affected by stress, and witnessed the critical moment of the first breath and the beginning of a new life.
3/3 • Countdown to Life: The Extraordinary Making of You • 2015 • Health
1916. The war is raging in Europe and stretches from the trenches in France to the Italian Alps and the Balkans, and beyond to the gates of the Eastern world. The conflict becomes industrial, and millions of shells rain down on the battlefields; Verdun and the Somme are the deadliest battles in this second year of the war. Who can stop this infernal machine?
Where and when does the history of Europe begin? The traces lead to ancient Greece, more precisely to Crete: Here we not only found the first high culture of the continent, but also the founding myth, to which it owes its name: the kidnapping of the princess Europa by the Greek god Zeus.
In the subsequent 65 million years, mammals are part of Europe’s history. Sea mammals conquered the oceans while herds of herbivores crisscrossed the land. It was 600,000 years ago that Homo Heidelbergensis first began hunting. Seen from a geological perspective, human beings have been on the earth for only a few short moments, but within this brief time we have already fundamentally transformed the planet. Rivers have been straightened, forests cleared and roads laid down across the natural habitats of nearly all the earth’s animals.
After Caesar, Antony and Octavian divided the empire for a time. But there could only be one successor to Caesar. Ten years later, the supreme strategist Octavian waged a critical naval battle, the Battle of Actium, against his former ally, Antony, who now had the backing of Cleopatra.
Europe has never experienced such a long period of peace and prosperity as after the Second World War. When the Iron Curtain fell in 1989, the dream of a Europe united in peace and freedom seemed to have finally to become a reality. But the clouds of nationalism have started to gather once again.
Our minds store our entire lives, our memories and our deepest desires. Tell no one, and our thoughts remain our own. But our brains are biological computers. Computer hackers can tamper with our email. Could brain hackers someday be able to rewrite our thoughts?
In this episode, Iolo investigates the courtship and nesting behaviour of birds, including the amazing courtship display of great crested grebes at a reservoir near Pontypool, the impressive sky dance of hen harriers in the dramatic Cambrian Mountains, how nuthatch use mud like cement to prepare their nest in a woodland near Harlech, and why long-tailed tits near Newtown are exceptional nest builders. On the Lleyn Peninsula near Trefor, he looks at why one colony of shags nest earlier than any others in Wales, and in Pembrokeshire he finds out where house martins nested before they used our buildings. Iolo also looks at the variety of places birds like to nest, from little ringed plovers on shingle banks along the River Tywi to puffins underground on Skomer.
In three decades, the waters around the remote village of Cabo Pulmo have gone from wildly biodiverse, to barren, to a bountiful and pristine haven for mighty sharks and flying rays once again. See how local fishermen ultimately turned back the clock, restoring one of the world's most majestic coral reefs.