Wednesday, May 9, 2012 | Categories: Episodes
Part One of The Current
It's Wednesday, May 9th.
Canada's Environment Commissioner says Ottawa still has no solid plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Currently, The government says it will respond as soon as it figures out which foreign lobbyist is paying his salary.
This is The Current.
Brain-Wasting: Neurodegenerative Diseases - Dr. Mallucci
Giovanna Mallucci thinks she's uncovered a common thread linking a range of diseases that slowly cripple brains: Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, Huntington's. Dr. Mallucci is the head researcher for a team at the University of Leicester in the United Kingdom. Earlier this week, it published its results. Dr. Mallucci believes these diseases may share a common Achilles Heel ... one you can only see at the cellular level.
So, instead of trying to stop the cells from producing the mis-shapen proteins, Dr. Mallucci and her team focused on the end problem ... figuring out a way keep cells producing the healthy proteins they require.
Now there are two important caveats. The first is that the work has been done on mice. The second is that it was done on prion diseases. Prions are a mis-shapen protein known to cause Creutzfeldt-Jakob and its animal equivalent, BSE, Mad Cow diseases. While Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and Huntington's are not known to be caused by prions, they do produce other mis-shapened proteins. And Dr. Mallucci thinks it may be possible to stop them with similar techniques.
Brain-Wasting: Neurodegenerative Diseases - Neurology Professor
Giovanna Mallucci is quick to say that we shouldn't expect a cure or even a treatment any time soon. But people who work in the field say this is a major step forward.
Neil Cashman is a professor of neurology at UBC. He's at the International Prion Conference in Amsterdam.
Brain-Wasting: Neurodegenerative Diseases - Science Journalist
Prions aren't a fungus or a parasite, they're not bacteria or even a virus. It seemed unbelievable that something could infect and destroy brain tissue if it didn't carry genetic material -- the famous DNA and RNA. But these simple proteins can do it and scientists have spent half a century trying to understand how.
Jay Ingram is one of Canada's best known science journalists and former host of CBC's Quirks and Quarks. He has traced those efforts in his new book, Fatal Flaws: How a Misfolded Protein Baffled Scientists and Changed the Way We Look at the Brain. It will be on Canadian bookshelves later this month. Jay Ingram was in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
This segment was produced by The Current's Howard Goldenthal, Alex Boyd and Ottawa Network Producer, Neil Morrison.
Other segments from today's show: