Understanding protein structure may lead to treatment for amyloid diseases | “The Science Show”

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Professor David Eisenberg discussed his protein structure research in a recent interview with science journalist Robyn Williams on the popular radio program.

The Australian Broadcasting Corp’s “The Science Show” is considered by many people to be the world’s best science broadcast program. Eisenberg was interviewed for the one-hour radio show when Williams recently visited the UCLA campus. The eight-minute interview aired on May 27, 2017.

In speaking about his research on protein structure and its possible effect on amyloid diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and diabetes type II, Eisenberg said in the interview “Our line of attack is once we know the shape, now we can design something that interferes with them. …Here we want to stop the fibre formation, and we do that by designing a molecule which caps off the fibre, so that new molecules can’t add to it any more. I mentioned that we have disposal systems for getting rid of them. If we can stop molecules from going into the fibres, then there’s a chance that these disposal systems could catch up, take over and stop disease progression. That’s our hope.” 

To learn more about Eisenberg’s research, visit his group’s website.

From “The Science Show website:

Understanding protein structure may lead to treatment for amyloid diseases

8560934 3x2 340x227Proteins are large molecules with complex shapes. In older people, proteins can lose their structure and unwind collecting in large organs such as the heart, liver and kidney, and in the brain. These collected deposits of proteins are known as amyloid and cause amyloid diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. It is thought these amyloids collect through our life but are naturally removed. As we age, the disposal system slows and the amyloid fibres pile up. David Eisenberg’s lab is trying to understand the structure of the amyloid fibres and use this information to design a molecule which will interfere with the pile up, allowing the body’s natural disposal system to catch up, resulting in removal of amyloid and hopefully, reduction in disease.

Image above: The atomic structure of an amyloid fibril formed from two stacks of peptides (short proteins), one yellow and one green. Oxygen atoms are red, and nitrogen atoms are blue. The background shows amyloid fibrils at lower magnification. (Michael Sawaya and David Eisenberg, UCLA)