Curing the incurableBMJ 1999; 319 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.319.7215.1012 (Published 09 October 1999) Cite this as: BMJ 1999;319:1012
- Chris Martyn
Equinox, Channel 4, Monday 4 October at 9 pm
The human brain is the most complicated machine in the known universe. In “Curing the Incurable” biotechnologists explain how to repair it when it goes wrong. It's amazingly simple really. Attach a stereotactic frame and locate the target with magnetic resonance imaging, make a burr hole, insert a fine cannula into the damaged area, squirt in a few specially engineered cells, and wait for them to reinnervate and restore lost function.
Early on, we are introduced to two victims of stroke. Both had a moderately severe right hemiparesis and a degree of dysphasia and, understandably enough, were desperate to find an effective treatment They were two out of a dozen stroke patients who had volunteered to receive an intracerebral transplant of a cell line derived from a testicular teratocarcinoma. We watched one of them having the cells injected. Five months later, he had regained some movement in his right thumb. But …