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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 ...

Information encoding in the brain
Kohl Group

Information encoding in the brain

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 ...

Theoretical and Computational Neuroscience
Vogels Group

Theoretical and Computational Neuroscience

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

Cell Biology of Exosome Signalling, Secretion and Growth in Normal and Cancer Cells at Super-Resolution
Wilson Group

Cell Biology of Exosome Signalling, Secretion and ...

Cyclic Nucleotides signalling
Zaccolo Group

Cyclic Nucleotides signalling

Latest news

Shaping our understanding of why we sleep

Associate Professor Vladyslav Vyazovskiy has edited a special issue of Current Opinion of Physiology with Professor A. Jennifer Morton from the University of Cambridge. “Physiology of Sleep” compiles the latest developments in sleep research around the complex question of ‘why do we sleep?’

Assumptions on fetal iron development during pregnancy challenged

A key hormone in the fetal liver has been found for the first time to play a critical role in determining iron endowment in the newborn baby. Up until now, widely held notions made in comparison to how the adult liver controls iron in the body have led to a common focus on how maternal iron status and function of the placenta determines a baby's iron status. A new study from the Lakhal-Littleton group reveals a more autonomous process takes place within the fetus than previously understood.

URICA trial gives hope for faster diagnosis of hemolysis in the newborn

The destruction of red blood cells known as hemolysis in the newborn baby is very dangerous, but existing clinical methods are not sufficient for rapid diagnosis and can lead to delays early-life care. A new Swietach Group paper has identified a biomarker that could significantly speed up the process.