Our research focuses on understanding and improving human health, with a particular emphasis on pharmaceutical chemistry, pharmacology and improving pharmacy practice.
We cover a broad range of research interests from heart disease, epilepsy and dementia to developing new compounds to treat cancer. We also work with patients and pharmacists to improve dementia patients' experience of drugs.
We have strong links with industry, including pharmaceutical companies such as Pfizer and GW Pharmaceuticals, and an outward-looking network of scientific collaborations spanning the globe (USA, Japan, Italy, Germany, Brazil, and Kazakhstan).
Our academics also work closely with several large facilities, including the Diamond Light Source, the ISIS Neutron Source and the Central Laser Facility at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory in Oxfordshire.
The Division hosts a variety of events and seminars throughout the year. Find out more on our events calendar.
Cannabis-derived drugs for epilepsy
The pharmaceutical company GW Pharmaceuticals is funding a team led by Professor Gary Stephens to investigate how compounds from the cannabis herb can be used to treat epilepsy. Cannabis contains more than 400 different compounds, only one of which, called THC, causes the ‘high’ associated with recreational cannabis use. The team’s research has shown that compounds like cannabidiol and cannabidivarin can be used to prevent seizures. In 2018, the FDA approved the use of cannabidiol as a new drug in the USA, Epidiolex, for treating two types of severe, life-threatening childhood epilepsy. Gary Stephens’ wrote this blog in response to the seizure of cannabis oil by Customs Officers in 2018 which received wide coverage. You can also see him explain his research in this 2018 video.
Saving lives from snakebite
Each year, snakebites kill around 150,000 people and Reading pharmacologist Dr Sakthi Vaiyapuri is on a mission to change that. His research concerns platelets, the component of our blood responsible for clotting, and one aspect of his work is studying the effects of snake venom on this process. Alongside working on potential new small-molecule treatments for snakebite in the lab, Sakthi and his PhD student Harry Williams are developing a simple antibody-based diagnostic test, similar to a pregnancy or HIV test, which can quickly determine the type of snake that has bitten a person from a drop of their blood or urine. In practice, this would allow a bitten person to receive the correct treatment as quickly as possible. Sakthi hopes that the cheap-to-produce kits could ultimately be kept in local pharmacies. Alongside his research he is also leading a major public awareness campaign in Tamil Nadu
Better cancer drug prescribing
Pharmacy student Daniel Mercer was one of two winners of Reading’s annual undergraduate research programme. In summer 2018 he carried out research under the supervision of Reading’s Dr Nilesh Patel and Nadjoua Maouche from Oxford University Hospitals to investigate improved prescription of chemotherapy regimens for non-Hodgkins lymphoma. He will present his research at the annual undergraduate Posters in Parliament event at Westminster in March 2019. Find out more on the Reading research blog.
Medicines: challenging the throwaway culture
Dr Parastou Donyai has surveyed the public on their opinions about medication reuse: the idea that medication returned by one patient can be dispensed by a pharmacist to another patient. Her research findings suggests that the public are supportive about re-using unopened medicines and the environmental benefits this could have and would trust pharmacists to decide which medicines could be reissued. Over half of the 1,003 people surveyed wanted to re-use medication in the future. The others would potentially agree to re-use medicines if their questions were answered and the process was clear and well controlled. In particular, people wanted to see safeguards against fake medicines, or those that had been tampered with. Read more on our research blog.
Investigating the early causes of dementia
Glia are cells which support the neurons in the brain and keep the brain stuck together. Professor Mark Dallas is investigating whether damage or changes to these cells decades before the first symptoms of dementia appear could hold clues for early treatment, diagnosis or prevention of the disease. See him explain more about his work in this video made to support his 2018 public lecture, ‘Brain Glue: Sticking it to dementia’.
Light switch molecules to diagnose disease
Dr James Hall’s research uses X-ray crystallography to focus on the structure of nucleic acids – the ‘molecules of life’ which contain the genetic information for living things – and how they become damaged. In March 2018 he won a Research Outputs prize for his 2016 paper which the judges said offered “a new hypothesis into DNA-probe binding with significant applications for future diagnostics”. Find out more.
Mansfield, E.D.H., Pandya, Y., Mun, E.A., Rogers, S.E., Abutbul-Ionita, I., Danino, D., Williams, A.C., Khutoryanskiy, V.V. (2018) Structure and characterisation of hydroxyethylcellulose-silica nanoparticles. RSC Advances
Hall, J.P., Gurung, S.P., Henle, J., Poidl, P., Andersson, J., Lincoln, P., Winter, G., Sorensen, T., Cardin, D.J., Brazier, J.A., Cardin, C.J. (2017) Guanine Can Direct Binding Specificity of Ru–dipyridophenazine (dppz) Complexes to DNA through Steric Effects. Chemistry - A European Journal
Morrison, P.W.J., Porfiryeva, N.N., Chahal, S., Salakhov, I.A., Lacourt, C., Semina, I.I., Moustafine, R.I., Khutoryanskiy, V.V. (2017) Crown Ethers: Novel Permeability Enhancers for Ocular Drug Delivery? Molecular Pharmaceutics
Manzoni, C., Lewis, P.A. (2017) Lrrk2 and autophagy (Advances in Neurobiology (chapter)
Find out more
Our staff carry out research on Pharmacy Practice, Pharmaceutics & Pharmaceutical Chemistry and Pharmacology. For specific enquiries, please contact:
Dr Angela Bithell and Dr Francesca Greco
Research Division Leads