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Roslyn Bill - Aston University. Birmingham, , GB

Roslyn Bill

Professor of Biotechnology | Aston University


Professor Bill's research on water flow in the body has revealed how to develop drugs that prevent brain swelling after injury or disease.







Changing the way we treat brain injuries Cell versus virus: understanding the role of the membrane protein CD81 Making industrial chemicals from agricultural waste




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)

Membrane Proteins

Brain Swelling

Water Balance

Healthy Ageing

Brain Injury

Education (3)

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

Affiliations (6)

  • 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

Expres  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.

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Study uncovers new applications for schizophrenia drug

BBC  online


"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.

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'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.

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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.

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Articles (5)

Purification and immobilization of engineered glucose dehydrogenase: a new approach to producing gluconic acid from breadwaste

Biotechnology 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.

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Expression of eukaryotic membrane proteins in eukaryotic and prokaryotic hosts


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.

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Targeting Aquaporin-4 Subcellular Localization to Treat Central Nervous System Edema


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.

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Expression and purification of recombinant G protein-coupled receptors: A review

Protein 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.

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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.

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