Ryan Hopkins

Ryan Hopkins

Research Student


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Faecal incontinence is a gastrointestinal disorder that is a combination of dysfunctional symptoms including increased faecal urgency, frequency and chronic constipation.

The prevalence of faecal incontinence (FI) affecting older people is 12% of over 80-year-olds in the general population and up to 25% of those who are institutionalised. FI is debilitating and has a demoralising impact on quality of life, which can lead to social isolation, loss of independence and increased admission into a care home.

Previous studies highlight the negative effects the ageing process has on rectal sensitivity & smooth muscle tonality in the anorectum, resulting in unnoticed liquid stool leakage around the faecal impaction causing incontinence. The underlying signalling mechanisms involved in the age-related changes to these intrinsic reflexes are still unclear, despite various studies being reporting how these reflexes are impaired with age. 

Gastrointestinal dysfunction disorders, more specifically, faecal incontinence has been linked to changes in signalling molecules: serotonin (5-HT), Acetylcholine (ACh), Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP) and Nitric Oxide (NO) which are thought to be released locally from enterochromaffin cells.

There is currently no gold standard diagnostic test or pharmaceutical treatment, highlighting the need to:

1. Further understand how the ageing process augments FI and comprehension of any changes in signalling mechanisms involved would provide novel drug targets that can prevent these functional bowel disorders, thereby reducing the prevalence of age-related FI.

2. Develop a clinically appropriate diagnostic sensor that can electrochemically detect these biomarkers to determine whether a patient would benefit from pharmacological treatment.

Education/Academic qualification

Master, Master of Pharmacy, University of Brighton

21 Sept 20164 Jul 2020

Award Date: 4 Jul 2020


  • RM Therapeutics. Pharmacology
  • Gastroenterology
  • Faecal incontinence
  • Gastrointestinal disorders
  • QD Chemistry
  • Electrochemistry
  • Biomarkers
  • Nitric Oxide
  • Serotonin
  • Acetylcholine
  • Melatonin
  • QP Physiology
  • Electrophysiology
  • QA76 Computer software
  • Labchart
  • Prism Graphpad
  • QH301 Biology
  • Proteomics
  • RS Pharmacy and materia medica
  • Clinical Pharmacy


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