Diseases that were largely eradicated in the United States a generation ago—whooping cough, measles, mumps—are returning, in part because nervous parents are skipping their children’s shots. NOVA's "Vaccines—Calling the Shots" takes viewers around the world to track epidemics, explore the science behind vaccinations, hear from parents wrestling with vaccine-related questions, and shed light on the risks of opting out.
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 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.
The heart is the most symbolic organ of the human body. Throughout history it has been seen as the site of our emotions, the very centre of our being. But modern medicine has come to see the heart as just a pump; a brilliant pump, but nothing more. And we see ourselves as ruled by our heads and not our hearts. In this documentary, filmmaker David Malone asks whether we are right to take this view. He explores the heart's conflicting histories as an emotional symbol and a physical organ, and investigates what the latest science is learning about its structures, its capacities and its role. In the age-old battle of hearts and minds, will these new discoveries alter the balance and allow the heart to reclaim something of its traditional place at the centre of our humanity?
The Cholesterol Question is a hard-hitting investigation into the heart of cholesterol’s controversial journey, from essential biological substance to Public Enemy Number One and possible rehab. It’s a villain that’s simple to understand, easy to implicate and, we thought, easy to medicate. But it’s a story almost stranger than fiction. At Stanford University, Dr. Christopher Gardner reveals the debatable science behind our assault on dietary fat and cholesterol – a massive intervention that many believe only made us fatter and sicker.
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.
Lyme disease, a mysterious tick-borne illness, is the fastest spreading vector-borne disease in the United States, and over the past decade, the tick that carries Lyme has been spreading across Canada with alarming speed. Ticked Off: The Mystery of Lyme Disease, is a fascinating and eye-opening documentary that explores a disease that has devastating effects, is often misdiagnosed and mistreated, and continues to be mired in a medical controversy. More than 30,000 cases are reported in the USA every year, but the real number could be as high as 300,000. And despite hard evidence that the Lyme-carrying, deer tick has already established populations across Canada, some people claim that patients here are still being told that they cannot contract Lyme in this country. Doctors agree that if it’s caught early Lyme disease can usually be cured with two to four weeks of antibiotics. There are others who believe that if it’s not caught early, the infection can develop into a debilitating condition they call Chronic Lyme. Yet unlike West Nile, Encephalitis or SARS, where the medical profession and scientists joined forces to find better treatments or a cure, many patients, who claim to have chronic Lyme, say that they are being denied treatment and left to suffer. So why is this happening?