When art meets science, and institutions display antibodies, they are drawn to the body

When art meets science, and institutions display antibodies, they are drawn to the body ...

A unique collaboration with video artists from Sensu and performers from the Aerialettes, inspired by recent research from Albert Heck (Hecklab) at Utrecht University. This artist visualisation illustrates how antibodies to combat diseases can be found in our own bodies.

The science

The way our immune system responds to pathogens is varied from person to person. Researchers at Utrecht University have recently discovered how this works and found that each person develops a distinctive set of antibodies. These antibodies are molecules that are formed as part of the body''s immune response to combat an infection or illness. These results have been recently published.

When they examined the whole repertoire of antibodies found in healthy and seriously ill individuals, the Utrecht team discovered this diversity. These latter were recovered following a few weeks in intensive care in the hospital. By looking at the whole repertoire of all co-appearing antibodies in the blood, they discovered that there was no overlap between donors.

Up until recently it was considered impossible to accurately map a complex mixture of antibodies in blood, but the Utrecht team realised this. A very sensitive analysis reveals substantial differences in antibodies mixtures. The technique, called mass spectrometry, is used to create a divisive comparison of substances depending on their molecular composition.

These findings may help explain why some people are more susceptible to becoming ill, or why they recover faster from illness. Extreme diversity in immune responses might also provide new opportunities for personalized therapies and vaccinations.

The art

In collaboration with Sensu''s video artistic team, translating scientific research with an aim to reach a larger audience. This science media company had previously transformed its work from the Utrecht group into captive research videos.

The ease of variation of antibodies with the human body gave the Sensu team the thought of collaborating with aerial dancers from Aerialettes to show that antibodies are quite flexible as human bodies.

Together, this combination of arts and science led to a spectacular video entitled Quest for Antibodies, which demonstrates the strength of the human body.

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