Stem Cell Universe with Stephen Hawking

Synopsis: Led by a pioneer in the science world, Stephen Hawking, this special takes us on a journey which delves into the subjects of stem cells both embryonic and adult to explore what these ...
60 min

I have spent my life

exploring the mysteries

of the cosmos.

But there's another universe

that fascinates me,

the one hidden

inside our bodies...

...our own personal galaxies

of cells.

Today, we are on the brink

of a new age in medicine,

an age where we will be able

to heal our bodies

of any illness,

all because of cell inside us...

...which have special powers.

They are called stem cells.

These microscopic

miracle workers

are, however, barely understood.

Implanting them into our bodies

could unleash biological mayhem.

Are stem cells magic bullets

or ticking time bombs?

I haven't lived

a very normal life.

Since my 20s, I haven't had

to deal with the distractions

that come

from being able-bodied.

I have led a life of the mind.

Stem cells may give you

that same freedom...

...allowing you

to pursue your wildest dreams

without ever having to worry

about the limitations

of your body.

Dr. Robert Lanza

is one of the pioneers

of stem cell therapies.

He is already using them

to help patients regenerate

damaged body parts.

Right now,

we're in clinical trials

to try to treat blindness

using retinal cells

that were generated

from stem cells.

We've also been able to create

entire tubes of red blood cells

that transport oxygen just like

normal, transfusable blood.

Robert's work developed

from studying

how stem cells create

not just body parts,

but entire bodies.

They do this for all of us

when we start out

as nothing more

than a fertilized egg

floating in the womb.

So, imagine I'm floating

down the fallopian tube.

And first, there's one of me,

and then there's two of me.

Then there's gonna be four of me

and eight of me.

And we continue on dividing.

And eventually,

when I get downstream,

I'll be a ball

of about 100 cells.

These embryonic

stem cells are blank cells.

They have not yet become

a specific type of tissue.

But soon,

they start transforming

into specialized bone cells,

muscle cells,

and nerve cells.

Nine months later,

they form a complete person.

Once we are born, however,

these blank embryonic stem cells


We lose the power

that they alone possess

to regenerate all of the tissues

in our bodies.

Robert is working

on restoring that power.

So, when you think

of a regular cell,

whether it's a skin cell,

a heart cell, or a blood cell,

it turns out

that that cell carries out

a very specific function.

And it carries out that function

for its entire life.

So, the question is,

what tells that cell what to do?

And that's where DNA comes in.

The way DNA is packed

into the nucleus of each cell

determines what function

it's going to have.

DNA's long double helix

is wound around a huge number

of tiny, molecular balls

in a structure called chromatin.

As we grow in the womb,

certain proteins interact

with the chromatin

of a blank embryonic cell

causing parts of its DNA

to become unspooled.

The parts that are unspooled determine

the type of cell this is going to be.

A heart cell will have

one DNA arrangement.

A skin cell, another.

This process

of cell specialization

appeared to be irreversible...

Until a breakthrough experiment

in 1962.

What scientists did

is they actually took

an adult cell in the case

of a frog, an intestinal cell,

and they put it

into an empty egg.

And what had happened

is that that egg

actually acted

like a little time machine

and brought the DNA

back in time to a point

where it could actually generate

an entire tadpole

and then, eventually,

an entire frog.

Biologists now believe

key proteins in the egg

undo all the specialized DNA

arrangements in the adult cell.

They return it

to its original state...

A blank embryonic cell

awaiting instructions

on what to become.

So, we learned

from this research

that we could actually generate

embryonic stem cells

that would grow forever,

that were essentially immortal,

and that could be turned into virtually

all the cell types in the body.

Robert has spent

the past two decades

developing techniques that

instruct embryonic stem cells

to turn into specific tissues.

I think we have the capacity to

do all sorts of amazing things

that science never

had the ability to do before.

Stem cells are likely

to revolutionize medicine

in the next several decades.

But harvesting material

from human embryos

is highly controversial.

Some see it as damaging

one potential life

to help another.

There is, however, another way

to harness

the immense power of stem cells.

Kristin Baldwin

is one of a group

of stem cell researchers

who hopes to make harvesting

eggs or embryos obsolete.

All she uses

is a patient's skin cell.

So, the old way that we used

to make personalized stem cells

was to take the skin cell

and take the DNA

out of its nucleus,

picking it up

and carrying it over into an egg

which doesn't have any DNA,

and the egg can change the DNA

and turn it into a stem cell

that has your genome.

But now there's a new way,

and all that it takes

is for us to put

these four genes

into the nucleus of

the skin cell and then wait.

And what these genes do

is reorganize the DNA

so that it starts

to look like stem cell DNA.

And once that happens,

it changes the cell around

and the cell starts to shrink

and not look like

a skin cell anymore

and loses its outside.

And over the course of a week,

Rate this script:5.0 / 1 vote


The writer of this script is unknown. more…

All Unknown scripts | Unknown Scripts

4 fans

Submitted on August 05, 2018

Discuss this script with the community:



    Translate and read this script in other languages:

    Select another language:

    • - Select -
    • 简体中文 (Chinese - Simplified)
    • 繁體中文 (Chinese - Traditional)
    • Español (Spanish)
    • Esperanto (Esperanto)
    • 日本語 (Japanese)
    • Português (Portuguese)
    • Deutsch (German)
    • العربية (Arabic)
    • Français (French)
    • Русский (Russian)
    • ಕನ್ನಡ (Kannada)
    • 한국어 (Korean)
    • עברית (Hebrew)
    • Gaeilge (Irish)
    • Українська (Ukrainian)
    • اردو (Urdu)
    • Magyar (Hungarian)
    • मानक हिन्दी (Hindi)
    • Indonesia (Indonesian)
    • Italiano (Italian)
    • தமிழ் (Tamil)
    • Türkçe (Turkish)
    • తెలుగు (Telugu)
    • ภาษาไทย (Thai)
    • Tiếng Việt (Vietnamese)
    • Čeština (Czech)
    • Polski (Polish)
    • Bahasa Indonesia (Indonesian)
    • Românește (Romanian)
    • Nederlands (Dutch)
    • Ελληνικά (Greek)
    • Latinum (Latin)
    • Svenska (Swedish)
    • Dansk (Danish)
    • Suomi (Finnish)
    • فارسی (Persian)
    • ייִדיש (Yiddish)
    • հայերեն (Armenian)
    • Norsk (Norwegian)
    • English (English)


    Use the citation below to add this screenplay to your bibliography:


    "Stem Cell Universe with Stephen Hawking" STANDS4 LLC, 2024. Web. 19 Jun 2024. <>.

    We need you!

    Help us build the largest writers community and scripts collection on the web!


    The Studio:

    ScreenWriting Tool

    Write your screenplay and focus on the story with many helpful features.