This video brings real research to a new audience through art and music.
This project aims to combine neuroscience with music and animation to create a film which uses real images of cells taken as part of research into motor neurone disease (also known as ALS). ALS is a devastating disease that kills six people a day in the UK. The project aims to bringing real research to a new audience in an artistic context, to show the beauty of scientific research and explore the space between science, art and music. The positive nature of the piece represents the continuing progress of research, moving forward to advance our knowledge of this disease, and the valuable contribution and resilience of the patients involved.
The cells in this animation include stem cells, motor neurons and cortical neurons. Stem cells have the ability to become any other cell type, and these can be created in the laboratory by genetically manipulating skin cells taken from patients with motor neurone disease. These are then transformed into neurons, which are used experimentally to understand the disease. Motor neurons transmit signals to activate the muscles, and these are the cells that are most vulnerable in this disease. By creating these cells in the lab, they can then be studied in a way that is not possible in living patients.
The colours of the cells seen are provided by immunofluorescence, where antibodies are used to detect specific proteins in the cell, allowing visualisation of different parts of the cell, such as the cell body and the nucleus. The video is set to music written for saxophones and tuned percussion, inspired by the research images. The music was performed by Jenny Greig, Josie Simmons (saxophones) and Rob Kelly (percussion) and was recorded at Strongroom Studios.
This work will be used to raise money for the Motor Neurone Disease Association (MNDA), in order to fund continuing work into understanding and developing therapies for this disease. All proceeds from both the video and the music go to the MNDA. Please visit mndassociation.org for more information or to make a donation.
Jenny Greig - Department of Basic & Clinical Neuroscience, King’s College London
Corinne Pollock, Chris Meyer - Art/animation
Rob Kelly - Composer