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Neurovascular coupling in epilepsy/seizure

Project Description

Epilepsy is a serious and debilitating condition characterised by seizure affecting over 100 million people worldwide. In addition to epilepsy, seizure is a symptom associated with over 50% of brain diseases including major neurodegenerative diseases such as vascular dementia and stroke. This suggests aetiology of seizure involves multiple organ systems rather than arising solely because of neuronal/CNS dysfunction. Indeed, development of seizures is often seen in conditions associated with changes in cerebral vascular function where recent evidence implicates dysfunction of components of the Neurovascular Unit (NVU) and the blood vessels incorporated within it. I am particularly interested in studying the mechanisms that connect blood supply to neuronal function (neurovascular coupling) and have access to a number of pre-clinical models of epilepsy to study these processes. This project will focus in the role pericyte cells found in the capillary network contribute to neurovascular coupling. The project will use brain slices, electrophysiological techniques and imaging of the brain capillary and arteriole network to investigate if neurovascular coupling mechanisms are dysfunctional in epilepsy (as observed in other diseases such as vascular dementia). This study is in collaboration with Professor Ben Whalley (University of Reading) an expert in epilepsy with whom I have a number of longstanding collaborations.
The effect of omega-3 poly unsaturated fatty acids (n-3 PUFA), also known as “fish oils”, on vascular function – There is a large body of evidence that consumption of oily fish or supplementation of fish oils leads to improvements in cardiovascular heath (as well as other health benefits including anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer effects). Recent research in my laboratory has identified several novel mechanisms by which n-3 PUFAs may exert their beneficial cardiovascular effects – particularly relating vascular function. This research focusses on the effect of n-3 PUFAs on potassium channels expressed in the cardiovascular system. This project will examine these effects using measurements of vascular function (myography) and electrophysiological and molecular biology techniques to characterise the mechanisms by which fish oils evoke increases in blood flow and reduction in blood pressure. There is also the possibility that a candidate with a background in chemistry could also investigate the possibility of developing novel compounds based on the structure of n-3 fatty acids as potential future therapeutic agents in cardiovascular diseases.

I am advertising for self-funded students, I am open to enquiries from talented individuals with an interest in any of these subject areas to discuss securing research funds and including schemes available at the University of Reading and beyond.

Funding Notes

At least degree in pharmacology, physiology, biochemistry or a related biomedical science

How good is research at University of Reading in Allied Health Professions, Dentistry, Nursing and Pharmacy?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 23.20

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

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