NOVA takes you inside the operating room to witness organ transplant teams transferring organs from donors to recipients. Meet families navigating both sides of a transplant, and researchers working to end the organ shortage. Their efforts to understand organ rejection, discover ways to keep organs alive outside the body, and even grow artificial organs with stem cells, could save countless lives.
Not all the microbes that live on us or inside us are benign, and it is only thanks to the superhuman nature of our bodies that we survive constant attack. However, humans are becoming increasingly vulnerable to disease. This programme examines the dramatic increase in allergic diseases such as asthma, eczema and hayfever.
This week, we meet a girl whose heart has formed outside her ribcage, a man who can spend nine minutes underwater without taking a breath, a woman who is growing a second skeleton and a paralysed man who is regaining movement thanks to a chip implanted into his brain that can 'read' his brain signals.
Horizon investigates a new era of Alzheimer's research, which is bringing hope to millions of sufferers across the world. New scanning and gene technology is allowing scientists to identify the disease at its earliest stages, often 15 years before symptoms appear and the brain cells are destroyed. A series of new drugs trials in Colombia, the USA and Europe are showing startling success in reducing beta amyloid, the protein which is a hallmark of the disease. It is also becoming clear that changes in lifestyle can prevent the development of the disease. A new system inside the brain has been discovered which clears amyloid when we are in deep sleep, but allows it to accumulate if we don't sleep well. The programme reveals that for sufferers in the early stages of the disease, brain connections, or synapses, can be strengthened and even replaced by absorbing enough of the right nutrients. A UK-wide trail helps sufferers in the early stages to concentrate on improving everyday tasks, and in the process not only make their lives easier, but helps to reactivate the planning and organisational parts of the brain. In an ageing world, where the biggest risk of developing Alzheimer's is old age, the scientific breakthroughs in Alzheimer's disease are bringing hope where once there was despair.
The series offers a fresh look at the science behind teeth and dentistry, and what we can all do to improve our oral health. The programmes feature patients undergoing treatment for missing or broken teeth, decay, gum disease, and a range of other problems – sometimes to the extreme. The series also features a strong public health message, with experiments on and information about everything from correct tooth brushing to the effectiveness (or otherwise) of over-the-counter tooth whitening kits.
This time, we meet a man who feels no pain, a woman who can smell Parkinson's disease, a man who can remember every face he has ever seen and a survivor of a head injury who woke up to find he could suddenly play the piano. These remarkable cases are shedding new light on one of the most mysterious parts of the human body - our brain.