8:00pm – Thursday, June 25 on ABC1
What are Stem Cells.
Embryonic stem cells have the unique property to become any cell in the body. This makes them the target of research into treatments to replace lost or damaged cells for diseases such as Parkinson’s or Cystic Fibrosis. But because stem cell research focuses on human embryos it has met fierce controversy. An incredible breakthrough by Japanese scientists in 2006 has found a way of creating an embryonic stem cell from an adult cell such as a skin cell. This revolutionary discovery means every cell in your body has the potential to be ‘reprogrammed’ to work like an embryonic stem cell. Mark Horstman investigates how these reprogrammed cells, called IPS cells, may offer hope for research into new treatments. And now that Barack Obama has overturned the ban on federal funding for embryonic stem cell research, Catalyst reveals how science has moved beyond the ethics.
Stem Cells and the Brain The discovery of stem cells in the brain marks a potential breakthrough in understanding the process of ageing. Halfway through an adult’s life fifty percent of the brain stem cells have been lost. But if brain stem cells can be regenerated through exercise or mental activity, can ageing be delayed? Dr Paul Willis puts his grey matter to work to find out more.
Stem Cell Repair When Ryan Ogden’s knee buckled up in a friendly game of footy, little did he realise he would be the first ever Australian to receive an injection of donor stem cells into a knee with the aim of preventing osteoarthritis. Ryan needed reconstruction surgery to replace his torn ligament, but the doctors’ fears of early onset arthritis, gave him the opportunity to take part in the trial. Injecting stem cells into the legs of horses has proved a resounding success, bringing some horses back to form that would formerly have been put out to grass. Graham Phillips meets Ryan in Victoria, discusses his hopes for the trial and watches a horse that’s back on the track.
Catalyst will be repeated on ABC2 – Friday, June 26 at 5:30pm