Phage therapy as an alternative antibiotics

phage3Broadcaster: BBC2

Year: 2016

Genre: Magazine

Length: 7 mins 17 secs

URL: https://learningonscreen.ac.uk/ondemand/index.php/clip/89648

The growing menace of antibiotic resistance has been the subject of increasing press attention in recent years. In this clip from the BBC’s medical magazine show Trust Me I’m A Doctor surgeon Gabriel Weston investigates a potential alternative to antibiotics, the use of bacteriophage in an approach known as Phage Therapy. This apparently novel approach has actually been the subject of extensive research over many decades in the former Soviet Union, especially in the Republic of Georgia. Patients whose diseases are proving resistance to more traditional Western treatments based on antibiotics are now travelling to the Eliava Institute in Tbilisi to try this alternative. Continue reading

The Battle to Beat Polio

Model of an iron lung to explain to a child with polio what would be happening to them: "It looked like a coffin, and it effectively was a coffin. Three-quarters of people put into this died in the machine"

Model of an iron lung to explain to a child with polio what would be happening to them: “It looked like a coffin, and it effectively was a coffin. Three-quarters of people put into this died in the machine”

Broadcaster: BBC 2

Year: 2014

Genre: Documentary

URL: http://bobnational.net/record/241950

 

Review by Lorna McCall

In this documentary former BBC economics editor Stephanie Flanders presents a fascinating and engaging documentary on polio. The programme looks into the development of an effective vaccine during the 20th century. The impetus for this project was spurred on by the global epidemic of polio which was paralysing and killing many children. Flanders has a personal interest since her father Michael – half of the music hall double-act Flanders and Swann – was wheelchair bound for more than 30 years of his life as a consequence of infection with the poliomyelitis virus during WWII. He died from polio-related complications when she was only six. Continue reading

Could I Get Ebola?

What risks do we have of catching the Ebola virus?

What risks do we have of catching the Ebola virus?

Broadcaster: BBC 1

Year: 2014

Genre: Documentary

URL: http://bobnational.net/record/293071

Review by Will Channell 

In this half-hour documentary, Medical doctor and researcher Chris Van Tulleken, investigates the epidemiology of the Ebola virus; with particular focus on the 2014 outbreak in West Africa, and the potential for the virus to get into the UK. This is a useful programme offering both public information on an important current affair and for use as an educational tool in the area of viral physiology and epidemiology.

The programme starts by giving background information on the outbreak, before quickly introducing ideas on how the British government are tackling it. Van Tulleken explores the secretive research facilities at Porton Down and the highly secure laboratories in which the Ebola virus is studied (http://bobnational.net/record/292484, 4 minute clip).

Using interviews combined with computer graphics, he guides the viewer through the physiology of the virus, explaining areas relevant to the virus’ pathogenicity. Following this the viewer is guided through the symptoms and treatment of Ebola using further interviews with people who have first-hand experience of the recent epidemic, including British survivor nurse Will Pooley and MSF doctor Javid Abdelmoneim.

Van Tulleken then draws the documentary to a close by detailing transmission of the virus. The emphasis is on reassuring the public of the improbability of infection in the UK. Several factors about the biology of Ebola make it relatively difficult to catch – it is not (currently) contagious by airborne transmission, you need to have contact with the bodily fluids of someone who has the disease.

Any undergraduate microbiologists studying either the Ebola virus or viral epidemiology in general would find this documentary interesting. Despite only being half an hour long the show offers detailed information that would be useful as either a learning or revision tool. In addition to this it walks through the career roles of various research or healthcare scientists.

People interested in this programme might also benefit from the more recent documentary Outbreak: The truth about Ebola.

Vaccination: From Jenner to Foot & Mouth Disease (Countryfile)

Edward Jenner made a crucial breakthrough in developing vaccination, though his experiment was unethical by modern standards

Edward Jenner made a crucial breakthrough in developing vaccination, though his experiment was unethical by modern standards

Broadcaster: BBC 1

Year: 2015

Genre: Magazine

URL: http://bobnational.net/record/294432

The role of Edward Jenner in developing vaccination has been told many times on TV. This 6.5 minute clip from a Countryfile “Heroes of farming” special visits Jenner’s house in Gloucestershire to tell the famous story. Drawing on the wisdom of local dairymaids, Jenner took pustules from people infected with cowpox and deliberately introduced material from the pustules into local children. This work would not get through an ethical review today!

Anita Rana then brings the story of vaccination up to date by visiting the Pirbright Institute, where a new vaccine against Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) is being developed. A vaccine against FMD already exists, but the production involves use of the live virus, with inherent risks. The new vaccine retains the protective element without the infective.

Vaccination Wars (Unreported World)

Some papers have run campaigns calling for a boycott of polio vaccine

Some papers have run campaigns calling for a boycott of polio vaccine

Broadcaster: Channel 4

Year: 2015

Genre: Documentary

URL: http://bobnational.net/record/289825

In most countries of the world, polio has been tamed by effective vaccination. The disease is only endemic in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria. This 24 minute programme looks at the activities of the vaccination teams in Pakistan who continue in their drive to immunise the nation’s children. In 2011 the CIA pretended to be a vaccination team to search for Osama Bin Laden, and this is one factor contributing to growing resistance. Lies about the manufacture and harmful side effects of the vaccine are pedalled. The Taliban vociferously oppose the vaccination programme and some of the team have been murdered (four were shot during the time the programme was being filmed).

In the face of these threats, the vaccineers have had to adapt their methods – including boarding trains as they wait for a few minutes at a station with the hope of vaccinating all children aboard. This in itself may not be enough, children need at least five doses of the vaccine to be protected, but they will treat who they can, when they can.

In other drives, the team go house-to-house, including in areas where there is open hostility. For this they receive pay of £1.50 per day. Frequently their offers to vaccinate children are rejected.

An interesting ethical quandary occurs 12 minutes into the episode. Finding some children home in the absence of their parents, the team go in and give the vaccine to a baby before trying, unsuccessfully, to bribe another boy to come out of hiding under a sofa to receive treatment. Continue reading

Secret Universe: The hidden life of a cell

The programme includes amazing animations interpreting what is going on within our cells

The programme includes amazing animations interpreting what is going on within our cells

Broadcaster: BBC2

Year: 2012

Genre: documentary, animation

URL: http://bobnational.net/record/273595

Review by Josh Sutton

It can be incredibly difficult to visualise certain aspects of cell biology. Static, two dimensional images do not allow full appreciation of the mechanism or complexity of a protein or other intracellular structures. In this hour-long documentary, various cell substructures are represented, including motor proteins, aspects of the cytoskeleton and endocytosis.

Narrated by David Tennant, the documentary begins with a brief (and admittedly basic) overview of cell structure, giving an explanation of the function of various components. It then moves on to show what happens to a cell during infection by adenovirus (beginning at 9:55). Footage shows how infection occurs, and how the body’s immune system responds. We are then shown how the virus modifies the cell to produce more viral particles (starting from 38 mins). Short interviews from scientists, such as geneticist Steve Jones, add more depth to the information presented. Because of this, this is an excellent video to watch for those interested in cell biology, virology and immunology, and is worthwhile watching in its entirety.

Since it is aimed at a general audience, the depth of content in this documentary is not at the same level as it would be in lectures. Some of the simplification is the use of more common terms, such as saying white blood cells instead of leukocytes, and using ‘keys’ to explain receptor binding, as well as not mentioning specific protein names (such as clathrin). However, the value of this video is not in its scientific descriptions, but in the excellent visuals.

It would be beneficial to watch this video while revising, and then fill in the missing aspects of the science yourself, testing your own knowledge and helping you to identify areas where your knowledge is lacking.

The IMDB page for this documentary is here. According to the TRILT database it has only been transmitted once, on 21st October 2012.

Why are thin people not fat? (Horizon)

Philipp Scherer demonstrates a tenth of the body fat we would find in a lean person

Philipp Scherer demonstrates a tenth of the body fat we would find in a lean person

Broadcaster: BBC4 (originally BBC2)

Year: 2015 (originally January 2009)

Genre: Documentary

URL: http://bobnational.net/record/284706 *

Review by Lorna McCall

This episode of the documentary series Horizon follows an experiment conducted by Swedish scientist Fredrik Nystrom. In contrast to most studies on obesity, which focus on the laready-overweight, Nystrom takes a novel approach by studying individuals who struggle to put on weight. This programme delves into many different factors the body employs to control our body weight. The following times indicate the start of relevant sections (which are also provided as clips): Continue reading