Peter J. R. Cobbett, PhD
- Faculty, Behavioral & Systems, Cellular & Molecular
Associate Professor, Pharmacology & Toxicology
Ph.D., 1981, St. Andrews University
For many years, research in my laboratory was directed primarily at understanding the mechanisms controlling the secretion of the hormones vasopressin and oxytocin by the hypothalamo-neurohypophysial system of the mammalian brain. Recently, my research has seen a major change of focus.
Shistosomiasis, a disease in humans due to infection by specific species of parasitic worms of the Schistosoma family, is found predominantly in certain tropical and subtropical parts of the world including Africa, South America and Asia. Our research is directed at understanding the physiology of these worms and at finding alternative treatments for infection by these worms. Our approach is to understand how praziquantel, the drug which is used most successfully to treat schistosomiasis, acts on schistosomes at the cellular level and the level of the whole organism. We are also searching for compounds that mimic these effects. We use electrophysiological techniques to examine the effect of praziquantel and other compounds on the physiology of single muscle fibers from schistosomes and from a free-living, related but non-parasitic worm (Dugesia trigina). We also examine the effect of these drugs on the behavior and viability of both types of worm.