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Mr Stuart Hanmer 


P2X receptors are ATP-gated ion channels with widespread expression in humans where their ever expanding range of physiological and pathophysiological roles makes them desirable targets for pharmacotherapies. To understand the full range of physiological functions that the P2X receptor family serves, it is necessary to investigate the function of P2X receptors in other organisms. In addition, the study of highly divergent members of the P2X family may give insight to the molecular bases of pharmacological properties of the receptors and thereby inform our understanding of drug action on this clinically important receptor family.

My PhD research (supervised jointly by Dr Wynand van der Goes van Naters and Prof. Paul Kemp) follows on from the discovery of a number of novel P2X receptors in a variety of non-mammalian organisms and extends the list into model organisms positioned at key points in the metazoan evolutionary timeline. We use a combination of cloning and expression methods coupled with electrophysiological recording methods and in vivo physiological measurements to determine the pharmacology and underlying functional role of these P2X receptors in whole organisms. One of the organisms we are currently investigating the function of P2X receptors in the freshwater crustacean Daphnia pulex (photo below).

Daphnia pulex

This exciting research will not only expand our knowledge of the distribution and function of P2X receptors in non-mammalian members of the animal kingdom, but will also contribute to furthering our understanding of the molecular mechanisms governing P2X function in higher organisms.

Funding

Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC)

The Welsh Livery Guild

The Physiological Society