Tonight, the Perpetual Notion Machine rebroadcasts a show which originally aired on Nov. 30, 2006. PNM has done a fair number of shows describing Chronic Wasting Disease or CWD, which infect deer and cause death due to brain degeneration after about 18 months. And since 2006, CWD in the Wisconsin deer population has spread virtually unchecked. There is still speculation on how CWD effects humans who have eaten infected deer. On this rebroadcasted show, former PNM’er Bill Scanlon talked with senior research scientist Debbie McKenzie about the microbiology of the prion proteins which cause CWD, and a number of other diseases like Mad Cow Disease. She explains what happens in the brain from a different form of the protein, but we don’t know why. And she adds that the protein isn’t quite the same from animal to animal, which can also develop a prion-like disease. Also part of this show was Kate Raiford who did the Science News Roundup.
At the time of the show in 2006, Debbie McKenzie was working in Judd Atkin’s lab in the Department of Animal Health and Biochemical Sciences in the School of Veterinary Medicine at UW-Madison. She still studies prions, but is now at the Centre for Prions and Protein Folding Diseases at the University of Alberta in Canada.