The first ever vaccine was created when Edward Jenner, an English physician and scientist, successfully injected small amounts of a cowpox virus into a young boy to protect him from the related (and deadly) smallpox virus. But how does this seemingly counterintuitive process work? Kelwalin Dhanasarnsombut details the science behind vaccines.
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Our lifespan is increasing by 2.5 years every decade - and a third of all babies born today can expect to live to 100. But living longer can come at a cost. Old age itself brings with it a range of debilitating illnesses, many of which are the result of accumulating damage during our lifetime. Three diseases in particular have become the main killers in the developed world - cancer, heart disease and dementia. But a revolution in bio-medicine is now offering new hope for the treatment of these ailments, and the potential to extend our lives still further. Methods such as gene editing and stem cell therapies are transforming the way medicine can conquer disease today. These extreme frontiers of medicine do, however, also come with a range of ethical dilemmas - when is the right time to try out an experimental technique on a patient? Should we gene edit human embryos? And is it right to use cells from aborted foetuses for medical treatments?
Every second of your life you are under attack. Bacteria, viruses, spores and more living stuff wants to enter your body and use its resources for itself. The immune system is a powerful army of cells that fights like a T-Rex on speed and sacrifices itself for your survival. Without it you would die in no time. This sounds simple but the reality is complex, beautiful and just awesome. An animation of the immune system.
Imagine if the food you eat could 'clean' your body and make you feel well. Dr Giles Yeo investigates the latest diet craze and social media sensation - clean eating. In a television first, Giles cooks with Ella Mills, the Instagram entrepreneur behind Deliciously Ella, one of the most popular brands associated with clean eating, and examines how far her plant-based cooking is based on science. She tells him clean has lost its way: "Clean now implies dirty and that's negative. I haven't used it, but as far as I understood it when I first read the term, it meant natural, kind of unprocessed, and now it doesn't mean that at all. It means diet, it means fad". Giles sifts through the claims of the Hemsley sisters, who advocate not just gluten-free but grain-free cooking, and Natasha Corrett, who popularises alkaline eating through her Honestly Healthy brand. In America, Giles reveals the key alternative health figures whose food philosophies are influencing the new gurus of clean. He discovers that when it comes to their promises about food and our health, all is not always what it appears to be. Inside a Californian ranch where cancer patients have been treated with alkaline food, Giles sees for himself what can happen when pseudoscience is taken to a shocking extreme.
Xand van Tulleken, Raksha Dave and John Sergeant discover the parallels of the Great Plague of 1665 with the Covid-19 pandemic. Ch1. Outbreak The epidemic is traced back to its source in the parish of St Giles in the Fields, now at the heart of London's theatre district. The program also examines the symptoms of the disease and uncovers new research into the plague bacteria that could overthrow accepted ideas about how the infection was spread. Ch2. Decimation Xand heads to St Barts hospital to look back at historical records which show that nursing staff stayed behind and risked their lives to help the sick. Elsewhere, John investigates why infection rates were so different between the rich and poor, examining clothes typical for each group in the 17th century. Ch3. Aftermath Xand visits Samuel Pepys' parish church and discovers the sad tale of the Poole family, who within 11 days lost all five of their children. He also heads to Eyam in Derbyshire, revealing the heroic story of self-sacrifice that saw all 700 villagers lock themselves in to try to stop the disease from spreading to surrounding areas. Raksha Dave trials 17th-century disinfection methods and reveal a surprising substitute that can be just as effective as modern antibacterial cleaners.
2020 • Health
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.