Stem cells


PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 18 June, 2003, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 18 June, 2003, 12:00am


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Life Blood

Pearl, 9.30pm

Matthew Farrow was born with Fanconi's anaemia, a rare and fatal blood disease. At any other time in history he would have died. But when he was just five years old in 1998, he became the first person in the world to be given a radical new treatment that many believed would not work. The treatment consisted of half a cupful of an extraordinary liquid - a particular kind of blood that is normally thrown away. And it saved him.

For many years the umbilical cord and the placenta were seen as medical waste. But over the past decade, pioneering work has changed everyone's thinking. After years of disbelief from the general medical community, cord blood has become a crucial alternative to bone marrow transplants for a wide range of cancers and killer blood diseases, everything from leukaemia to sickle cell anaemia.

This moving film follows the patients whose lives have been saved by the cord blood of donor babies and explains the science behind the diseases and treatments.

The First Human

World, 1.25am

In November 2000, a team of French and Kenyan scientists, led by Martin Pickford and Brigitte Senut, excavated a cache of fossilised bones that were six million years old. Calling the find Millennium Man, they claimed they had discovered the oldest direct ancestor of humankind. Today, their discovery is rocking the world of palaeoanthropology - challenging long-held theories about the life of early man. The bones appear to hold the key to understanding how apes first became human - by learning how to walk.

The Rock

Star Movies, 9pm

When Brigadier General Francis Xavier Hummel (Ed Harris) and his elite squad of renegade marine commandos seize control of Alcatraz, hold the tourists hostage, and threaten to launch deadly poison gas missiles on San Francisco, the city's only hope for survival is an unlikely team: FBI chemical and biological weapons expert Stanley Goodspeed (Nicolas Cage) and the only known convict to have escaped the island fortress, John Mason (Sean Connery, above). With the clock ticking, this reluctant duo joins a Navy SEAL team in a desperate bid to infiltrate the rock, stop the general and disarm the missiles. (1996)

Ally McBeal

Star World, 9pm

Elaine (Jane Krakowski) pursues her dream of auditioning for a Broadway play and an unlikely member of the firm turns out to be her biggest supporter. Meanwhile, Richard (Greg Germann) finds himself defending his father, Charlie (Charles Kimbrough), who is accused of sexual harassment by his secretary. Starring Calista Flockhart.