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PhD student addresses British Pharmacological Society Conference

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Shazma Bashir is doing research into how paracetamol works  

By Lee Pinkerton

A PhD candidate at the University of East London (UEL) was invited to present intriguing new research on paracetamol at the British Pharmacological Society’s (BPS) annual conference.

Shazma Bashir, a PhD student in Bioscience, gave an oral presentation at the gathering – an opportunity which is usually offered to established researchers. 

The BPS is the main UK professional body for promoting the application and research of pharmacology. It has over 3,500 members from more than 60 countries. 

Shazma said, “It was a great honour to present my PhD research at such a prestigious platform. I was a bit nervous about presenting, but at the same time quite excited to share our research story with the audience. 

“The experience was exceptional and I had some really good feedback. I would like to continue unlocking paracetamol's mystery as a post doc scientist in the near future.”

Although paracetamol is widely used, scientists still do not know exactly how it works. Shazma’s research is about understanding how paracetamol reduces body temperature, such as during a fever. 

Professor Mike Seed, an academic in UEL’s Pharmacology department, said that Shazma’s presentation was significant for UEL. 

He said, “The BPS conference is important because the choice of whether a presentation is given orally is rigorously peer reviewed by the Committee of the Affinity Group Chairs, much more rigorously than other conferences, as it reflects the BPS membership and academic standing. It is a window for the community to see Bioscience at UEL.”

Shazma’s research is supervised by Dr Winston Morgan and Dr Samir Ayoub .

Dr Morgan said, “We know Calpol (paracetamol) is the friend of every parent when their toddler has a fever.  The conventional view is that paracetamol acts on enzymes somewhere in the brain. 

“However, Shazma’s research is suggesting that paracetamol may be working by preventing the power units in cells, the mitochondria, from working properly. Shazma’s research is suggesting that if mitochondria are temporarily compromised the body will produce less heat and body temperature falls.”