Novel technologies for Alzheimer’s and dementia treatments

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In a new MBI video, Professors David Eisenberg and Jose Rodriguez discuss the promising new therapies they each are developing in their labs.

Thanks to collaborations among research teams at the Molecular Biology Institute (MBI), promising new therapies for Alzheimer’s disease and dementia are being developed at UCLA. Guided after its foundation in 1965 by visionary Nobel prize-winning scientist and UCLA biochemist Professor Paul D. Boyer, the Institute continues to provide researchers with a unique platform to develop methods to define the structure of proteins and then apply these methods to create new therapies.  

At the March 16, 2021 event, welcoming remarks were made by Dean of Life Sciences Professor Tracy Johnson. MBI Interim Director Professor Hilary Coller made the introductory remarks and moderated the question and answer period and Professor Tamir Gonen, UCLA Department of Biological Chemistry and Physiology, was the third researcher to speak at the event.

DSE PortraitDavid Eisenberg is the Paul D. Boyer Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at UCLA and a Distinguished Professor of Biological Chemistry.  A biochemist and biophysicist, Eisenberg is best known for his contributions to structural biology and computational molecular biology. Currently he studies protein interactions by X-ray crystallography, bioinformatics, and biochemistry, with an emphasis on amyloid-forming proteins. This recently recognized protein state offers opportunities to understand cells in health and disease, and in synthesizing new materials and in understanding processes as diverse as biofilms and corrosion. In the video Eisenberg described two new structure-based approaches to development of therapeutics for Alzheimer’s disease. One of these halts the formation of toxic fibrils of the protein tau that kill neurons. The second approach is the development of small molecules that break up existing toxic tau fibrils in neurons.

Rodriguez Jose UCLA 2016small 1A true Bruin, Jose Rodriguez received his B.S. in BioPhysics in 2007 and his Ph.D. in molecular biology at UCLA. Prior to joining the UCLA faculty in 2016, he was a postdoctoral scholar in the group of Professor David Eisenberg. Rodriguez holds the Howard Reiss Development Chair in the UCLA Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry. His group develops and applies new scientific methods in bio-imaging to solve cellular and molecular structures and reveal undiscovered structures that influence chemistry, biology and medicine. He conducts research on the complex architecture of biological systems – from single biomolecules to cellular assemblies – at high resolution. His research combines computational, biochemical and biophysical experiments. 

Penny Jennings, UCLA Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry,