Aug 3, 2020
Professor Steven Clarke
Professor Steven Clarke was recently interviewed by science journalist Robyn Williams about his Alzheimer’s disease research.
 
The Australian Broadcasting Corp’s Science Show is considered by many people to be the world’s best science broadcast program. Clarke’s eight-minute interview was a segment of Williams’ one-hour radio show titled “The seaweed revolution and keeping brains fit” which aired on August 1, 2020. The interview and transcript can be accessed here
 
In the interview, Clarke discusses the discovery of a new understanding of how Alzheimer’s disease affects the brain, which he and his collaborators described in a 2019 Nature Communications paper
 
An authority on the biochemistry of the aging process and how protein modification can regulate biological function, Clarke earned his bachelor’s degree in chemistry and zoology from Pomona College, his Ph.D. in biochemistry and molecular biology from Harvard University and, after a two-year postdoctoral appointment as a Miller Fellow at the University of California at Berkeley, he joined the UCLA faculty in 1978. He directed the UCLA Cellular and Molecular Biology Training Program from 1988-2018 and the UCLA Molecular Biology Institute from 2001 to 2011. Clarke has received many awards for his research and teaching. To learn more about Clarke's research, visit his group's website.
 
Professor Jose Rodriguez was also interviewed on the show.
 
From "The Science Show" website:
 
 
Kinky proteins suspected cause for Alzheimer’s
 
On The Science Show with Robyn Williams
 
Enzymes might control proteins which change shape and interfere with normal brain function.
 
Various proteins have been mentioned as possible causes of Alzheimer’s. Two are prion and tau. But Steven Clarke suggests Alzheimer’s may be caused by a larger number of rogue proteins. He says an analogy is a leaky roof. You can fix one leak, but there may be many more. And so too with proteins in an aging brain. The problem is aggregations of misshaped or kinky proteins. Steven Clarke thinks proteins might be controlled for normal shape in younger brains. But in older brains, amino acids making up protein shape, produce residues that are kinked. These amino acids are controlled by enzymes in younger brains. But if these controlling enzymes are reduced, which might happen with age, this may allow the residue amino acids to become misshaped and then aggregate, interrupting normal brain function.  So how to keep your repair enzymes happy? Maybe Mum was right – diet, exercise, and sleep.
 
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Penny Jennings, UCLA Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry, penny@chem.ucla.edu.