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- UCL School of Pharmacy
- Faculty of Life Sciences
Dr Andy Constanti's first degree was a BSc (C.N.A.A.) in Pharmacy with Honours in Pharmacology. He then studied for a Doctor of Philosophy degree at the Medical College of St Bartholomew's Hospital whilst working as a Research Assistant in the Department of Pharmacology. He obtained his PhD in 1976, with a Thesis entitled "A quantitative study of the actions of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), GABA analogues and antagonists on the membrane conductance of lobster muscle fibres"
Since then he has worked at The School of Pharmacy, first as a Teaching Fellow and then as a Lecturer, Senior Lecturer and currently as a Reader in The Department of Pharmacology.
Dr Constanti’s current research is concerned with the electrophysiology and pharmacology of mammalian cortical neurones, studied in thin brain slices in vitro, using ‘sharp’ intracellular and whole-cell patch-clamp recording techniques. The principal areas of interest involve:
Intracellular recording from cortical neurons
Voltage clamp of olfactory cortical neurones in vitro, and the study of their voltage-sensitive membrane currents using the single microelectrode voltage clamp technique. Particular attention is being focused on a novel Ca2+-sensitive K+ current (termed IADP), discovered in his laboratory, that can be specifically induced by muscarinic (cholinergic) or metabotropic (glutamatergic) agonists in a distinct population of cortical cells. This novel current may be relevant for cortical learning and memory processes as well as epileptogenesis.Using the 'whole-cell' intracellular patch clamp recording technique, Dr Constanti and his group have been examining in more detail, the biophysical properties and intracellular signalling mechanisms underlying the induction of the IADP.
Muscarinic receptors and cortical epileptogenesis
Dr Constanti is also interested in the involvement of muscarinic receptor mechanisms in the generation and maintenance of epileptiform activity in immature cortical neuronal circuits. This interest follows on from the group’s recent discovery of abnormal epileptiform bursting behaviour induced by exposure to muscarinic agonists in immature cortical cells. Future research will be aimed at clarifying the developmental mechanism and pharmacology of this observed muscarinic phenomenon, using a range of available receptor-selective muscarinic agonists and antagonists.
Dr Constanti's research has also investigated genetic factors that can ultimately control mammalian central neuronal excitability and epileptogenesis in a collaborative project originally supported by the Wellcome Trust, involving deletion of the SOX1 transcription factor gene in mice. In view of novel findings regarding the selective developmental abnormality of the olfactory tubercle in the brains of Sox1-deficient mice, work was also carried out in collaboration with University College London to examine the basic electrical membrane properties and synaptic physiology of neurones in this brain area under patch clamp conditions in normal and Sox1 mutant mice.