Professor Marcus Rattray
Professor of Pharmacology
Expertise: Neuroprotection, astrocytes, addiction, motor neurone disease, pharmacology
In my laboratory, the primary research interest is the properties and functions of transporter proteins in the central nervous system, and in particular their importance in neurodegeneration.
We use mainly molecular biological and cell biological techniques. Other related work is to understand the intracellular events underlying neurodegeneration and neuroprotection, in particular the role of co-ordinated gene expression in astrocytes in protecting neurones.
Much of our recent work has focussed on the glutamate transporter proteins. These proteins are expressed mainly by astrocytes (glial cells) in the central nervous system where they are important in controlling the levels of the neurotransmitter glutamate in the synaptic cleft. If glutamate transporters are impaired then elevated glutamate levels contribute to neuronal death. This process of excitotoxicity has been strongly implicated in a number of neurological illnesses, including Motor Neurone Disease and diseases associated with ageing such as Alzheimer's Disease and Parkinson's Disease. We are carrying out work to understand how glutamate transporters are down-regulated, and the consequences of this down-regulation, mostly using cell culture models.
Other interests include drugs of abuse, particularly MDMA, the development of new treatments for addiction, and the mechanisms of action of neuroprotective drugs.