Prof. Dr. Rita Gerady-Schahn and colleagues receive "Hugo-Junkers-Preis 2019"
FOR 2953 PI Prof. Dr. Rita Gerardy-Schahn and her colleagues Prof. Dr. Alexander Dityatev and Dr. Hristo Varbanov from German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases (DZNE), Magdeburg, were awarded the "Hugo Junkers Prizes for Research and Innovation from Saxony-Anhalt 2019" in the category "Most innovative basic research projects". In the ceremony held at the “Hugo-Junkers” technology museum in Dessau-Roßlau, twelve award winners in four categories received the awards worth a total of 80,000 euros from Minister Prof. Dr. Armin Willingmann. The group received the award for their innovation entitled "Treatment of dementia and mental disorders with natural glycans (PolySia)". Diseases like schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, depression and dementia entail memory loss due to a disruption of the synapses that transmit information in the brain. If people are ill, the receptors of these nerve cells are activated too strongly and in the long term neurons die. The German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases e. V. (DZNE) has discovered an endogenous inhibitor - the Glycan PolySia. It can help heal memory damage, but is unsuitable as a therapeutic. The DZNE identified certain length-optimized glycans which, when administered, enter the brain, inhibit the receptors in mice and can restore memory.
(Image rights: IMG Sachsen-Anhalt, photographer: Joachim Blobel)
Dr. Markus Abeln receives "Sir-Hans-Krebs-Award"
The Sir Hans Krebs Prize, donated by the Society of Friends of MHH e.V. in the amount of 10,000 euros, is intended to honor an outstanding work in basic medical research published in a scientific journal. This year the award goes to Dr. rer. nat. Markus Abeln, MHH Institute for Clinical Biochemistry, for his work "Sialic acid is a critical fetal defense against maternal complement attack", published in ´The Journal of Clinical Investigation`, January 2019. To get a deeper insight into the relevance of sialic acid for embryonic developmet, Dr. Markus Abeln created a genetically modified mouse in which sialic acid is completely absent from the cell surface. Animals with this defect were not born, but died early in pregnancy. The analysis showed growth retardation and signs of an immune response against the embryo. A certain part of the mother's immune system, the so-called complement system, attacks the sialic acid-negative embryos. The developing placenta was particularly affected by the complement reaction. The findings obtained from the mouse model can also help explain a pregnancy complication that occurs in humans, pre-eclampsia. Therefore Dr. Abeln now investigates whether an incorrect presentation of sialic acid on the surface of the placenta is detectable in preeclampsia.
(Image rights: Hannover Medical School, photographer: Karin Kaiser)