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We study everything from the structure of ion channels and transporters right up to their role in behaviour and human disease.

Mitochondrial PKA FRET-based sensor

Understanding cellular regulation and communication

Our research into ion channels, transporters and signalling is some of the most basic science in the Department. It underpins our understanding of cellular activity, organ function and disease – and inspires the development of new treatments.

Ion channels and transporters are perhaps the most fundamental interface between cells and their surroundings, which makes understanding their function a vital part of understanding how the body works. From establishing how potassium channels affect insulin secretion, through the role of nutrient transporters in cancer growth, and the involvement of calcium channels in gene expression, to understanding metabolic signalling in the heart, all our work considers the microscopic behaviour of the cell but helps explain the macroscopic function of the body.

As a result our studies have wide-ranging implications that belie their tight focus. Through understanding how basic cell function is related to larger-scale conditions comes an increased ability to target our attentions and focus on the most important physiological questions. While our work is fundamentally about improving our understanding of human physiology, then, it lends itself naturally to translating basic science into treatments.

Most recently our understanding of potassium channels has led directly to the adoption of sulphonylurea in the treatment of neonatal diabetes, while insight into the behaviour of calcium-release-activated channels has given rise to a potential treatment for allergic asthma which is currently being developed for clinical trials. As we continue to embrace new technologies and further our theoretical understanding, we look set to answer many more scientific and clinical questions in the coming years.



Groups within this theme

ATP-sensitive potassium (K-ATP) channels, insulin secretion and diabetes
Ashcroft Group

ATP-sensitive potassium (K-ATP) channels, insulin ...

Cellular mechanisms of oxygen and acid sensing in arterial chemoreceptors
Buckler Group

Cellular mechanisms of oxygen and acid sensing in ...

Ketone metabolism in exercise and disease
Clarke Group

Ketone metabolism in exercise and disease

Role of ABC transporters in gut endocrine K-and L-cells
de Wet Group

Role of ABC transporters in gut endocrine K-and ...

Proton dependence of intracellular calcium signalling in the cerebellum in health and disease - role of extracellular pH sensing receptors and ion channels.
Glitsch Group

Proton dependence of intracellular calcium ...

Growth Regulation and Cancer: mTORC1, Exosomes and Cellular Amino Acid Sensing
Goberdhan Group

Growth Regulation and Cancer: mTORC1, Exosomes ...

Spatial organization of fat metabolism.
Klemm Group

Spatial organization of fat metabolism.

Iron Homeostasis- Mechanisms and importance in systems (patho)physiology
Lakhal-Littleton Group

Iron Homeostasis- Mechanisms and importance in ...

The aim of our work is to determine the cellular mechanisms underlying the benefits of traditional multi-herbal Chinese medicines.
Ma Group

The aim of our work is to determine the cellular ...

Intracellular calcium signalling in health and disease
Parekh Group

Intracellular calcium signalling in health and ...

Acid handling and signalling in the heart and in cancer
Swietach Group

Acid handling and signalling in the heart and in ...

We investigate how the activity of neurons in the brain give rise to our perception of sound.
Walker Group

We investigate how the activity of neurons in the ...

Membrane transport in cartilage and cancer cells
Wilkins Group

Membrane transport in cartilage and cancer cells

Exosomes, Microcarriers and Regulated Secretion: Complex Forms of Inter-Cellular and Inter-Organism Communication
Wilson Group

Exosomes, Microcarriers and Regulated Secretion: ...

Cyclic Nucleotides signalling
Zaccolo Group

Cyclic Nucleotides signalling

Latest news

New MRI technique could detect early signs of heart failure in cancer patients following chemotherapy

New research led by Oxford BHF CRE Intermediate Transition Fellow Dr Kerstin Timm shows that a recently developed imaging technique pioneered by the Tyler Group can detect early metabolic changes in the heart caused by a commonly used chemotherapy drug, which is known to increase risk of heart failure in cancer survivors.

Researchers reveal surprising simplicity behind our ability to hear

A computational modelling study from the King Group demonstrates that the way sounds are transformed from the ear to the brain’s auditory cortex may be simpler than expected. These findings not only highlight the value of computational modelling for determining the principles underlying neural processing, but could also be useful for improving treatments for patients with hearing loss.

New insights into mitochondria quality control could hold the key to treating metabolic disorders

The Zaccolo Group has identified a new mechanism that regulates mitochondria quality control, a process that is crucial to maintaining healthy cells and preventing disease.