From Molecules Through Medicines To Man
Many of our research programmes cross the core disciplines that comprise pharmacy (Pharmacology, Medicinal Chemistry, Pharmaceutics and Pharmacy practice) and use the unique capabilities of the Reading School of Pharmacy where active pharmaceutical compounds can be synthesised, evaluated for pharmacological activity and then developed into functional dosage forms with consideration of patient use. We attract support from the Research Councils, major Charities, the Pharmaceutical Industry and the University itself, and have also had funding to commercialise our research findings.
We have a broad research interest in cellular and molecular pharmacology, in particular in neuroscience, using models of brain disease associated with excitability, such as epilepsy, ataxia, pain and migraine (Gary Stephens, Ben Whalley, Graeme Cottrell, Silvia Amadesi) and neurodegeneration and neuroprotection, such as Parkinson's disease and Alzheimer's disease (Patrick Lewis, Mark Dallas). We also have a strong interest in the cardiovascular system (Katrina Bicknell, Alister McNeish, Sakthivel Vaiyapuri). The group has a growing interest in regenerative medicine and translational biology involving stem cell research (Angela Bithell, Darius Widera). All areas are of great therapeutic importance and our research is aimed at developing new targets in neurodegenerative and cardiovascular disorders and finding molecules to treat diseases. A variety of biochemical, bioimaging, molecular and electrophysiological methods are used to study these areas. We are studying the properties of purified proteins and their cell signalling pathways in cultured cells, tissue slice preparations and in neurons and cardiovascular cells, including myocytes and blood platelets. A range of state-of-the-art facilities are available within the Hopkins Building.to support the research of over 30 PhD, PDRA and Research Technicians, funded by RCUK, charity and the pharmaceutical industry.
We have a broad research interest in Cellular and Molecular Neurosciences, in particular using models of brain disease associated with excitability, such as epilepsy, ataxia, pain and migraine (Gary Stephens, Ben Whalley, Graeme Cottrell, Alistair Nunn) and neurodegeneration and neuroprotection, such as Parkinson's Disease, stroke and Alzheimer's Disease (Patrick Lewis, Helena Cimarosti, Mark Dallas). We also have interests in the cardiovascular system (Katrina Bicknell, Alister McNeish) and in regenerative medicine involving stem cell research (Che Connon, Angela Bithell). All areas are of great therapeutic importance and our research is aimed at developing new targets in neurodegenerative disorders and finding molecules to treat brain diseases. We aim to achieve clinical translation in regenerative medicine, epilepsy and diagnostics and aid optimal drug delivery by developing cutting edge materials for therapeutic applications. A variety of biochemical, bioimaging, molecular and electrophysiological methods are used to study these areas. We are studying the properties of purified proteins and cell signalling in cultured cells, tissue slice preparations and in neurons. A range of state-of-the-art facilities are available to support the research.
Chemistry is central to the science of pharmacy. Absolutely everything about a drug, from its synthesis and determination of purity, to its molecular interaction with a receptor, and finally its metabolism, requires a detailed understanding of chemical reactivity and how chemical structure influences pharmaceutical activity. Therefore, a good understanding of chemistry will allow the study of more advanced topics such as drug design and novel drug delivery, subjects which occur in depth throughout the course.
Medicinal chemistry research
We have a broad range of research interests within the medicinal chemistry section. In particular there is a strong interest in the development of anti-cancer agents (H Osborn, K Strohfeldt) as well as in the study of cancer mechanisms (A Cobb, J Brazier). The development of unnatural biomolecules such as nucleic acids (J Brazier and A Cobb), amino acids (A Cobb) and carbohydrates (H Osborn) is also a focus. Other interests include the development of carbohydrate-based therapeutics (H Osborn) and anti-malarial agents (K Strohfeldt) as well as novel chemical methodologies (A Cobb).
Drugs are seldom given to patients simply in the form of the active compound alone. Rather, they are formulated into medicines that meet a wide range of criteria, including that they must be: convenient and palatable for the patient; easy to store and transport; suitable for administration via routes such as oral and parenteral; chemically and physically stable. Pharmaceutics is the broad science of medicine (dosage form) design and thus encompasses the following:
- an understanding of the basic physical chemistry necessary for the efficient design of dosage forms
- the design and formulation of medicines
- the manufacture of these medicines on both a small and a large scale
- strategies to deliver 'conventional' small molecule drugs and other drugs (such as macromolecules, proteins, DNA) to specific target sites in the body
Our research interests include the following: transdermal drug delivery, the formulation of peptides, proteins and genes (A. Williams); protein structure, functions and interactions (R. Green); the use of polymers, dendrimers and hydrogels in drug delivery (V. Khutoryanskiy, F. Greco); solid-state characterisation of APIs and excipients (K. Shankland); transdermal drug delivery, pro-drug and co-drug design (W-M Lau); the formulation and delivery of vaccines (A. Edwards). The group has access to small scale manufacturing equipment (tablet machine, granulator, spray dryer etc), cell culture facilities and a full range of high‑end analytical instrumentation.
Pharmacy Practice brings together many aspects of other areas of the MPharm degree. It is an overview of how to work as a pharmacist and involves lectures, workshops and practical sessions. It teaches students the skills needed to manage the knowledge they have gained from other parts of the course, in order to provide the highest standards of care for their patients/clients. Our in-house teaching is supplemented by guest speakers from the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain, specialist nurses and consultants from the industrial sector.
Pharmacy practice research
We have a wide range of research interests, including reducing medication errors (R. Howard), applying scientific and psychosocial research methods to the study of quality, safety and efficacy in pharmaceutical practice (P. Donyai), the safe use of herbal drugs and their interactions with conventional medicines (E. Williamson) and the effect of natural products on the differentiation of bone cells (E Williamson and K Bicknell).
The Chemical Analysis Facility
The Chemical Analysis Facility is a state-of-the-art instrument suite that underpins the chemical aspects of world-class research at the University of Reading across a number of Biological and Physical Science areas. The analytical suite is equipped with facilities that include 700 and 500 MHz NMR spectrometers, vibrational spectroscopy (IR imaging, Raman, fluorescence), mass spectrometry, X-ray diffractometry (powder and single crystal) and thermal analysis (DSC, TGA, hot-stage microscopy). Medically related topics form a significant portion of the work embracing fields such as pharmaceutics, drug synthesis and nutrition.