My main area of research interest is human African trypanosomiasis (sleeping sickness). I also have an ongoing involvement in Varicella-Zoster virus (VZV) research.
Human African trypanosomiasis
This work reflects a longstanding collaboration, formed originally in 1988 with Prof Max Murray, at the University Veterinary School on the pathogenesis of Human African trypanosomiasis (HAT) also known as sleeping sickness. For the last 25 yrs we have been using a highly reproducible mouse model of HAT which mirrors the neuropathology of the human disease and also the post-reactive treatment encephalopathy (PTRE) which is seen in 10% of patients HAT treated with IV melarsoprol. Our long term goals are to better understand how the brain disease is caused by the infection and to devise more effective treatment for the disease. Our recent work has focussed on the balance of pro- and counter-inflammatory cytokines in generating the neuroinflammatory response in both the mouse model and patients with sleeping sickness, the role IL-10 and CXCL10 in HAT pathogenesis in both mice and patients, small bore magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the blood-brain barrier in HAT, the role of kynurenine pathway metabolites in the neuropathogenesis of HAT, and the recent exciting development of complexed melarsoprol as a promising oral treatment for late stage HAT. This drug has now been given orphan drug status by both the EMA and the FDA, and our trial protocol has been approved by the EMA to start a phase 2 clinical trial of oral complexed melarsoprol in late stage HAT in Uganda. The latter involves close collaboration with our colleagues in the sleeping sickness control program and the UNHRO in Kampala, Uganda.
Current members of the Glasgow trypanosomiasis group are Prof Peter Kennedy (group leader), Dr Jean Rodgers (senior scientist), Dr Paul Montague (senior post-doctoral scientist), Mrs Barbara Bradley (senior animal technician), and Prof Max Murray (senior hon. research fellow and emeritus Professor).
Funding for our recent trypanosomiasis research has been obtained from the Wellcome Trust (3 grants), the MRC and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
Collaborators include Dr Jeremy Sternberg (Aberdeen), Prof Trevor Stone (Glasgow), Prof Michael Barrett (Glasgow), Profs Krister Kristensson and Martin Rottenberg (Karolinska Institute), Prof Marina Bentivoglio (Verona), Prof Alfred Njamnshi (Cameroon), Prof Christopher Hunter (Pennsylvania), Dr Stephane Gibaud (Lorraine, France).
Varicella-Zoster virus (VZV)
I also maintain an ongoing and longstanding interest in VZV research, primarily on VZV gene expression during human ganglionic latency and also phenotypic differences between VZV obtained from patients with or without post-herpetic neuralgia (PHN). We have recently identified a novel sodium channel ion current modulating effect of VZV obtained from patients with PHN.
Funding has been primarily from the Chief Scientist Office and I am also an affiliate member of the CVR (Centre for Virus Research).
Collaborators include Dr Eddie Rowan (Strathclyde), Prof Judith Breuer (UCL), Prof Peter Ghazal (Edinburgh), and Profs Don Gilden and Randall Cohrs (Colorado, US).