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Art x Science Office

How colour can prolong life

Uli Herrmann, Mercator Award winner 2016

Uli Herrmann extends life with dyes. It may sound absurd, but it's true. Certain dyes can have a positive impact on the progression of prion diseases. This has been proven by neuroscientist Uli Herrmann, working together with an interdisciplinary research group. In the film, Herrmann explains how these dyes could develop a chemical structure that significantly prolongs the lives of afflicted mice. Today, on Thursday, he is being honored with the Mercator Award for this achievement. Additionally, Gabriela Medici and Sarah Genner are also receiving the Mercator Award in 2016 for their dissertations.

Coloring Diseased Prions

Prions are proteins, found primarily in brain tissue. When they take on an abnormal form and alter their three-dimensional structure, they can form deposits in the brain, leading to symptoms such as gait disturbances, dementia, and ultimately the death of patients. The most well-known prion disease is Mad Cow Disease. In humans, it mainly appears as the rare Creutzfeld-Jakob disease. However, it is believed that similar deposits may also be responsible for diseases like Parkinson's or Alzheimer's.

The hope is, therefore, great that the therapeutic success achieved by Herrmann in mice could lay the groundwork for the development of drugs to eventually cure humans.