This documentary charts the history and scientific evolution of stem cell research from the earliest experiments that first revealed stem cells in the body, to leading current scientific and clinical developments.
The discovery of stem cells was brought about by studies about the implications of exposure to radiation, when it became clear that many atom bomb survivors in Hiroshima were doomed to die anyway because blood production in their bone marrow came to a halt. The crucial role of stem cells in blood production was first understood in 1961 by J.E. Till and E.A. McCulloch. In 1984 stem cells were used for the first time to treat a patient - a severely burnt young man. Today several application fields have opened up, such as the treatment of certain forms of blindness.
The film illustrates the state of the art in research, without forgetting to mention the ethical issues arising from a field that is going through a historical time. After dramatically changing our understanding of how the body works, stem cells are moving to the next level thanks to the recent breakthrough of S. Yamanaka, a pioneer of induced pluripotent stem cells (IPS) artificially derived from adult somatic cells.
Featuring beautiful animations and interviews with leading stem cell scientists, including Nobel Laureate Sir Martin Evans and Sir Ian Wilmut, the creator of Dolly the sheep, this documentary is a genuinely creative collaboration between scientists and filmmakers.