Prof Alan Harvey

Emeritus Professor

Strathclyde Institute of Pharmacy and Biomedical Sciences

Personal statement

Alan Harvey is a professor of pharmacology in SIPBS. He studied pharmacy and then pharmacology, and has been an independent researcher since 1974. He works on the physiology and pharmacology of synaptic signalling, with particular interests in drugs and toxins affecting receptors and ion channels. He discovered the dendrotoxins, small proteins from mamba snake venoms that selectively block some types of potassium ion channels in neurons; these toxins have become standard pharmacological tools for investigating the role of particular ion channel sub-types in cellular physiology. In an extension to that work, he and collaborators in Sweden, Cuba, Argentina and Uruguay went on to discover other novel toxins with unusual chemical and pharmacological features: the fasciculins (the most potent and selective inhibitors of acetylcholinesterase), muscarinic toxins (the most sub-type specific compounds for studying muscarinic acetylcholine receptors), and the potassium ion channel blocking BgK and ShK; the last of these has formed the basis of an immunosuppressant drug that is in clinical trials. Recent toxin-related research was through involvement in a European consortium (“CONCO” - http://www.conco.eu/index.html) that explored the pharmaceutical potential of novel peptides from marine cone snails, particularly for treating patients with drug-resistant pain. He is President of the International Society on Toxinology (http://www.toxinology.org/) and is Editor-in-Chief of the journal Toxicon (http://ees.elsevier.com/toxcon/).

Together with colleagues in phytochemistry at Strathclyde, Alan Harvey has developed the use of natural products in drug discovery. This has been based on developing a facility for the rapid screening of chemicals on cell-based and molecular assays and on building up a world-wide network of natural product collaborators. The network involves groups in 20 different countries; it pioneered access and benefit-sharing arrangements for natural products that are compatible with the United Nations Convention on Biodiversity; and it created one of the most biodiverse screening collections available.

Alan Harvey has given many invited lectures at international conferences on toxins and venoms, natural products and drug discovery, and the academic-industrial interface. He has published extensively, with over 250 publications. On-going research activities include: 

  • discovery of new toxins that can be used as experimental tools to help understand the control of the excitability of nerve cells and the chemical signalling between nerves and muscles; and development of specific inhibitors of neuronal sodium ion channels as potential analgesics
  • linking with clinicians to study the underlying pharmacological effects responsible for currently unexplained symptoms of victims of envenoming by snakes
  • use of natural products in screening campaigns for potential leads for new medicines for cancer, inflammatory diseases, Alzheimer’s disease, and metabolic diseases and as antimicrobials and anti-parasitics
  • cell-based and molecular based drug discovery for prostate cancer
  • development of new assays for drug discovery projects
  • use of leads from traditional medicines in drug discovery projects for diabetes and trypanosomiasis

Publications

The re-emergence of natural products for drug discovery in the genomics era
Harvey Alan, Edrada-Ebel Ruangelie, Quinn Ronald J.
Nature Reviews Drug Discovery Vol 14, pp. 111–129, (2015)
http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nrd4510
Toxins and drug discovery
Harvey Alan L.
Toxicon Vol 92, pp. 193-200, (2014)
http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.toxicon.2014.10.020
Efecto inhibitorio de un extracto acuoso de las hojas de Allophylus cominia (L.) Sw sobre las proteínas tirosina fosfatasa 1B y dipeptidil peptidasa IV
Sánchez Calero Janet, Young Louise C., Marrero Faz Evangelina, L. Harvey Alan
Revista Cubana de Farmacia Vol 48, pp. 672-683, (2014)
Natural product-based libraries
Harvey Alan
Plant Chemical BiologyPlant Chemical Biology, (2014)
Zebrafish bioassay-guided microfractionation identifies anticonvulsant steroid glycosides from the Philippine medicinal plant Solanum torvum
Challal Soura, Buenafe Olivia Erin M, Queiroz Emerson Ferreira, Maljevic Snezana, Marcourt Laurence, Bock Merle, Kloeti Werner, Dayrit Fabian Millar, Harvey Alan L, Lerche Holger, Esguerra Camila V, de Witte Peter A M, Wolfender Jean-Luc, Crawford Alexander D
American Chemical Society Chemical Neuroscience Vol 5, pp. 993-1004, (2014)
http://dx.doi.org/10.1021/cn5001342
Efecto inhibidor del extracto acuoso de hojas de Persea americana Mill y sus fracciones sobre PTP1B como diana terapéutica para la diabetes tipo 2
Marrero-Faz Evangelina, Sánchez-Calero Janet, Young Louise, Harvey Alan
Boletín Latinoamericano y del Caribe de Plantas Medicinales y Aromáticas Vol 13, pp. 144-151, (2014)

more publications

Professional activities

40th Congress on Science and Technology of Thailand
Keynote/plenary speaker
2/12/2014
Venoms to Drugs Symposium
Keynote/plenary speaker
19/10/2014
10th Asia pacific Congress on Animal, Plant and Microbial Toxins
Member of programme committee
14/6/2014
10th IST Asia Pacific Congress on Animal, Plant and Microbial Toxins
Keynote/plenary speaker
14/6/2014
Tsicon 2013
Keynote/plenary speaker
19/12/2013
11th Pan-American Congress of the International Society on Toxinology
Keynote/plenary speaker
8/11/2013

more professional activities

Projects

Knowledge Transfer Account / RA4685
Harvey, Alan (Principal Investigator)
Period 01-Jun-2011 - 30-Sep-2012
SeaBioTech
McNeil, Brian (Principal Investigator) Edrada-Ebel, Ruangelie (Co-investigator) Harvey, Linda (Co-investigator) Harvey, Alan (Co-investigator)
Period 01-Aug-2012 - 30-Sep-2016
Screening for Drug Leads Against Clinical Isolates of Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus
Harvey, Alan (Principal Investigator)
Period 01-Feb-2011 - 31-Dec-2011
Identification of antagonists to TGFB1 as therapeutic agents to inhibit scar formation (SULSA Screening)
Harvey, Alan (Principal Investigator)
Period 14-Mar-2011 - 31-Dec-2011
DRUG DISCOVERY PORTAL COLLABORATION AGREEMENT
Harvey, Alan (Principal Investigator) MacKay, Simon (Co-investigator)
Period 29-May-2008 - 28-May-2013
A comprehensive multidisciplinary approach to target the inhibitory kappa B kinase pathway to discover novel therapies in prostate cancer
MacKay, Simon (Principal Investigator) Gray, Alexander (Co-investigator) Harvey, Alan (Co-investigator) Murphy, John (Co-investigator) Paul, Andrew (Co-investigator) Suckling, Colin (Co-investigator)
Period 01-Apr-2008 - 30-Apr-2014

more projects

Address

Strathclyde Institute of Pharmacy and Biomedical Sciences
John Arbuthnott Building Robertson Wing

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