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Dr Emma Lane

Dr Emma Lane

Reader in Neuropharmacology

School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences

Email
laneel@cardiff.ac.uk
Telephone
+44 (0)29 2087 4989
Fax:
+44 (0)29 2087 4149
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Media commentator
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Available for postgraduate supervision

Overview

My Lab and our research

My lab focuses on better understanding Parkinson's disease, a neurodegenerative disorder that causes a movement disorder.  We have two main focuses. Both existing drugs and new treatments have been shown to cause motor side effects known as dyskinesia. As a pharmacologist I use animal models of Parkinson's to better characterise and understand these treatment-induced side effects so that existing and novel therapies can be optimised.

Building on a passion for listening to, and utilising the patient voice, a new direction for the group in collaboration with Dr Cheney Drew, is the development of the LEARN study team. We are focused on understanding the experience of participants in clinical trials of Advanced Therapy Medicinal Products (ATMPs) which include cell transplantation and gene therapy for neurodegenerative diseases.  This will feed into the design of new trials to develop more patient-centred approaches to these complex clinical trials.

I lead BRAIN Involve, a PPI group linked to the Health and Care Research Wales funded BRAIN Unit and also lead the Brain Games public engagement programme, running events across a range of platforms.

Funding bodies which support my work

Relevant websites

Biography

I was promoted to Reader in Neuropharmacology in 2020 having been a Senior Lecturer since 2015.  I was Director of Postgraduate Research Studies for 5 years, managing all the PhD students in the school, in particular supporting them as they navigated a PhD during the COVID pandemic.

I established my own group in 2009 as a Lecturer in Pharmacology at the School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences. This group has focused on Parkinson's disease and now has a profile of research in both lab and patient-facing activities.

I first came to Wales in 2006 as a PDRA working with Prof Stephen Dunnett (2006-2009) in the Brain Repair Centre, Department of Neuroscience, Cardiff University. Here I continued my work on L-dopa and post-transplantation dyskinesia started in Lund, Sweden, contributing to two successful EU FP7 grant awards.

Following my PhD (2004-2006) I was a Post-Doctoral Research Associate in the Units of Neuronal Survival and Basal Ganglia Pathophysiology, Lund University, Sweden.  I spent 2 years in Sweden with Prof Patrik Brundin and Prof Angela Cenci developing, characterizing and working with a model of post-transplantation dyskinesia.

My PhD was conducted at King's College London, UK (2000-2004).  I had a BBSRC CASE award studentship with Prof Peter Jenner and Dr Sharon Cheetham (then Knoll Pharmaceuticals) on the potential of BTS 74398, a monoamine uptake inhibitor, as a possible anti-parkinsonian medication in rodent models of the disease.

My undergraduate degree was a BSc in Pharmacology (1996-2000) achieving a 1st class Honours with industrial placement, University College London, UK. Specialising in neuropharmacology options and spending an industrial year at Knoll Pharmaceuticals working on the pharmacology of the anti-obesity agent sibutramine.

Honours and awards

Grant awards - research

    £5 575

    Rivastigmine and quality of life in patients with Parkinson’s disease dementia, Role:PI Neurodem/NISCHR Research Development Group (2014 – ongoing)

    £12 500

    Optimising cell transplantation - BioE Sartre award, total award £25 000 from March 1st 2014 – ongoing: Role: Co-PI With J. Davies (Swansea University)

    £5 000

    Optimising MEMRI - Seed-corn funding from NMH RI – (2011) Role: Co-I with R. Trueman (BIOSI - PI) and S. Paisey (EMRIC)

    £14 978

    Scanning changes in functional brain activity associated with dyskinesia in parkinsonian rats, Parkinson’s Disease Society Innovations grant. Role: PI (2009-10)

    £41 622

    1 year Wellcome Trust Value In People Award. 2008-2009

    £338 975

    REPLACES: Restorative plasticity and corticostriatal excitatory synapses. EU FP7 small and medium collaborative research programme HEALTH 2007-2.2.1-7. Role: Co-I with expertise in L-DOPA induced dyskinesia and behavioural assessments, SB Dunnett PI Cardiff (2008-2012)

    £8 600

    Does the storage of embryonic tissue prior to transplantation affect immune responses to the graft and the development of graft induced dyskinesis Parkinsonfonden (Sweden) – Role: PI (2006-2009)

    £7 400

    Pharmacological investigation into amphetamine induced dyskinesia Parkinsonfonden (Sweden) Role: PI (2005-2007)

    Grant awards - public engagement

    £936

    Society for Neuroscience (US) Public engagement grant for the Brain Games, match funded with £1000 by NMHRI - PI

    £2000

    Royal Society Public engagement grant - Co-applicant (with lead Fiona Wyllie, BIOSI)

Professional memberships

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Teaching

Undergraduate

I contribute substantially to teaching activities across the school with a particular focus on neurology and neuropharmacology.  This is a major component of the third year of the MPharm programme, linking to second year and final year materials.  I also deliver both ethics and research-related teaching across both the MPharm and other undergraduate and post-graduate courses.

Postgraduate taught

I also deliver on several MSc programmes, teaching in neuropharmacology and neuroscience around neurodegenrative disease and delivery of advanced therapeutics such as cell transplantation and gene therapy.

Postgraduate research

  • Having been Director of Postgraduate Research Studies for 5 years I am very experienced in the support, recruitment and management of PhD students. I am the lead for Wellbeing and Research Culture in the GW4 MRC BIOMED2 Doctoral Training Programme, leading on EDI and recruitment.
  • I deliver lectures on the Research Students' Skills Development Programme: on ethics and being an ethical scientist, and In Vivo Methods: An Introduction.
  • PhD student supervision

I am an external examiner for undergraduate and postgraduate taught programmes in pharmacy, pharmacology and neuroscience as well as an experienced postgraduate research viva examiner.

Research interests

Member of the School's Medicines Optimisation and Health Outcomes and Experimental therapeutics and Pharmaceutical Sciences research disciplines.

Parkinson's disease

Parkinson's disease is a largely sporadic disorder which affects around 120 000 people in the UK. It is most commonly described as a motor disorder, with the cardinal features of resting tremor, rigidity, bradykinesia and postural instability. The main pathology is the loss of the melanised dopaminergic neurons of the nigrostriatal pathway and the development of protein accumulations immunopositive for the protein a-synuclein.

I have two main research interests, straddling the clinical and pre clinical research areas.  I am interested in Parkinson’s patient outcomes and how clinical interventions can influence those outcomes.  I work closely with clinical colleagues that run the Parkinson’s service in Cardiff and Vale and Abertawe Bro Morgannog University Health Boards.  We have instituted a new electronic health record and research is focusing on how these clinical support tools are facilitating patient care and linking different data sets through the SAIL database.  Importantly we are working to collate the experiences of participants in clinical trials of advanced therapy medicinal products to explore how these trials can be made more patient centred.  We are co-creating outputs with the participants to support different stakeholders involved in clinical trials, from CI's, ethics committees and of course future participants and their support networks.

I am interested in how therapeutic approaches to the treatment of Parkinson’s disease cause side effects.  Many of the motor symptoms of Parkinson's disease can be well controlled in the early stages with dopaminergic drugs therapies, however as the disease develop, the main treatment for Parkinson's disease, L-dopa, causes the development of abnormal involuntary movements. These can be severely debilitating and there are currently few pharmaceutical interventions to prevent or ameliorate them. Understanding the features that predispose for the development of L-dopa induced dyskinesia may increase our ability to identify patients at greater risk and avoid or minimise them with careful management of medication. Furthermore, the effects of L-dopa may go beyond motor activation and I am interested in the possible effects of long-term L-dopa administration on motor learning and habit formation using in vivo models of PD and dyskinesia.

Not only do dyskinesia develop, but medication become less effective at treating the motor symptoms of PD as the disease progresses. Transplantation of foetal tissue into the striatum can replace the lost dopaminergic innervation and can produce remarkable improvements in motor function. However, clinical trials have identified issues that need to be carefully considered before further clinical trial of embryonic tissue or cells from alternative sources (ie stem cells) can be attempted, including reliability and reproducibility of positive results, access to sources of embryonic tissue and alternative cell types and most notably the issue of transplantation-induced side effects. Three clinical trials of transplantation with embryonic tissue have now reported the development of dyskinesia in transplanted patients unrelated to their medication, to the extent that several have required further surgical interventions to ameliorate their symptoms. The main focus of my research over the last few years has been in determining mechanisms and contributing risk factors for the development of post-transplantation dyskinesia in order that transplantation can proceed unhindered into the next phase of clinical trials.  I am now moving towards furthering our understanding of how stem cell derived sources of dopaminergic neurons can be affected by the disease and the treatment of it.

Supervision

Current supervision

Mengru Song

Research student