Membrane proteins are the targets of over half of all prescription pharmaceuticals. I am an international authority on the synthesis and characterization of membrane proteins for biochemical, biophysical and structural analysis, which is the basis of modern drug discovery. My scientific focus is on aquaporin water channels (AQP), G protein-coupled receptors and tetraspanins.
In 2009, I led the multidisciplinary team that discovered a novel pathway that controls the permeability of cells to water. I have published a suite of articles describing this regulatory mechanism for human AQP1, 3, 4 and 5. These findings provide the foundation of understanding the mechanistic basis of water imbalance.
After a stroke or a traumatic head injury, the brain swells. This affects tens of millions of people every year. This swelling, known as ‘cytotoxic oedema’, can lead to death, disability and an increased risk of neurodegeneration with ageing. This is what happened to Michael Schumacher after his skiing accident in 2013. Current clinical treatments are crude and limited to symptom management. They include removal of part of the skull to allow the brain space to swell or the use of chemicals to draw water out of the brain tissue; these treatments are risky, especially for older patients. My team has discovered how water enters the brain and how to stop this happening after an injury. This means we can develop medicines to stop cytotoxic oedema developing and therefore reduce the need for life-threatening surgery. Excitingly, we have identified a compound that is already licenced in humans for another purpose. I am actively working towards testing whether it can be used as an anti-cytotoxic oedema medicine in a clinical trial.
Areas of Expertise (5)
University of Oxford: DPhil 1994
Wellcome Trust Prize Student
University of Oxford: MA, Natural Science (Chemistry) 1993
University of Oxford: BA, Natural Science (Chemistry) 1990
- BBSRC Research Committee E: Chair
- Biotechnology Letters : Editorial Board Member
- Molecular Biotechnology : Editorial Board Member
- BBA-Biomembranes : Editorial Board Member
- Membranes : Editorial Board Member
- Microbial Cell Factories : Editorial Board Member
Media Appearances (4)
Michael Schumacher: Miracle treatment gives 'full recovery' hope for brain injury patients
Professor Roslyn Bill of the Biosciences Research Group at Aston University said: "Every year, millions of people of all ages suffer brain and spinal injuries, whether from falls, accidents, road traffic collisions, sports injuries or stroke.
Study uncovers new applications for schizophrenia drug
"Rats who had not been given the treatment were still disabled after six weeks, but those who had a single injection, can walk normally after just two weeks," lead scientist Prof Roslyn Bill, at Aston University, said.
'Cell pores' discovery gives hope to millions of brain and spinal cord injury patients
University of Birmingham online
Professor Roslyn Bill of the Biosciences Research Group at Aston University said: “Every year, millions of people of all ages suffer brain and spinal injuries, whether from falls, accidents, road traffic collisions, sports injuries or stroke. To date, their treatment options have been very limited and, in many cases, very risky.
Schizophrenia drug ‘could help treat brain and spinal cord injury patients’
Evening Express online
Professor Roslyn Bill, of the Biosciences Research Group at Aston University, said: “Every year, millions of people of all ages suffer brain and spinal injuries, whether from falls, accidents, road traffic collisions, sports injuries or stroke.
Purification and immobilization of engineered glucose dehydrogenase: a new approach to producing gluconic acid from breadwasteBiotechnology for Biofuels
2020 Platform chemicals are essential to industrial processes. Used as starting materials for the manufacture of diverse products, their cheap availability and efficient sourcing are an industrial requirement. Increasing concerns about the depletion of natural resources and growing environmental consciousness have led to a focus on the economics and ecological viability of bio-based platform chemical production. Contemporary approaches include the use of immobilized enzymes that can be harnessed to produce high-value chemicals from waste.
Expression of eukaryotic membrane proteins in eukaryotic and prokaryotic hostsMethods
2020 The production of membrane proteins of high purity and in satisfactory yields is crucial for biomedical research. Due to their involvement in various cellular processes, membrane proteins have increasingly become some of the most important drug targets in modern times. Therefore, their structural and functional characterization is a high priority. However, protein expression has always been more challenging for membrane proteins than for soluble proteins.
Targeting Aquaporin-4 Subcellular Localization to Treat Central Nervous System EdemaCell
2020 Swelling of the brain or spinal cord (CNS edema) affects millions of people every year. All potential pharmacological interventions have failed in clinical trials, meaning that symptom management is the only treatment option. The water channel protein aquaporin-4 (AQP4) is expressed in astrocytes and mediates water flux across the blood-brain and blood-spinal cord barriers.
Expression and purification of recombinant G protein-coupled receptors: A reviewProtein Expression and Purification
2020 Given their extensive role in cell signalling, GPCRs are significant drug targets; despite this, many of these receptors have limited or no available prophylaxis. Novel drug design and discovery significantly rely on structure determination, of which GPCRs are typically elusive. Progress has been made thus far to produce sufficient quantity and quality of protein for downstream analysis.
Ligand-induced conformational changes in a SMALP-encapsulated GPCR.Biochimica et Biophysica Acta (BBA) - Biomembranes
2020 The adenosine 2A receptor (A2AR), a G-protein-coupled receptor (GPCR), was solubilised and purified encapsulated in styrene maleic acid lipid particles (SMALPs). The purified A2AR-SMALP was associated with phospholipids characteristic of the plasma membrane of Pichia pastoris, the host used for its expression, confirming that the A2AR-SMALP encapsulated native lipids. The fluorescence spectrum of the A2AR-SMALP showed a characteristic broad emission peak at 330 nm, produced by endogenous Trp residues.