Life Story: Introduction (01:04)
Gabriel Weston reflects on fetal development. This program will investigate super strong bones, continued arm growth, and cell re-engineering.
Sickle Cell Disease (09:54)
A 10-year-old girl does not suffer from symptoms because of a high percentage of fetal hemoglobin in her blood. Most people switch from fetal to adult hemoglobin after birth and have only 1% of fetal hemoglobin remaining by the age of one. Dr. Stuart Orkin located the gene responsible for the switch and hopes that by removing it in sickle cell patients, he will cure the disease.
Segmental Overgrowth (05:21)
A gene mutation results in the continuous growth of Leah's left arm. After many operations, Leah met Robert Semple who compared the uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells to cancer, and prescribed cancer medications.
Immortal Cells (05:02)
When doctors treated Henrietta Lacks for cervical cancer, they found the cells in her biopsy continuously grew. Though Lacks died, scientists began to use her cells for experiments; her cells contained an enzyme which rebuilt the telomeres at the end of chromosomes. HeLa cells enabled scientists to develop the polio vaccine and treatments for Parkinson's disease and AIDS.
Tim's bones are especially dense because of a problem with the gene that produces sclerostin; patients with osteoporosis have the opposite problem. Alistair Henry thought Tim's condition could shed light on a new treatment. Through an experiment with mice in space, scientists discovered that sclerostin increased density.
Sense of Smell (06:41)
After recovering from a cold, Louise Woollam lost her sense of smell; it gradually started returning, but everything smelled bad. Chris Kelly lost her smell and developed smell training. The olfactory bulb shrinks in people who lost their sense of smell.
Developmental Topographical Disorientation (07:56)
Ann has a cognitive condition that prevents her from recognizing familiar places and navigating her home and neighborhood. The ability to form mental maps develops in the first eight to ten years of life. Cognitive neuroscientist Giuseppe Iaria discovered that the hippocampus and prefrontal cortex are not active at the same time in patients with this condition and developed a navigational computer game to treat the disorder.
Severe Combined Immunodeficiency Disorder (07:33)
Due to a fault in one of his genes, Rhys Evan's immune system was not functional. A bone marrow transplant is an option for patients, but there was no match for Rhys. Scientists corrected a gene in a sample of his marrow, using an engineered virus, which led to the development of a functioning immune system.
Credits: Life Story (00:39)
Credits: Life Story
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