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Aquaporin Physiology and Drug Discovery

We are interested in unlocking the  actions of mammalian ‘aquaporins’ to discover new, drug-based approaches for treating brain injury, stroke, cancer, gastrointestinal, kidney and other diseases.

The dual water and ion channels known as aquaporins (AQPs) are found in all forms of life, from bacteria to vertebrates. They play key roles in water balance and fluid homeostasis across cell membranes. 

Human AQPs feature tissue-specific patterns of expression. Research in this area could have a significant impact on health and disease treatment. AQPs have been linked to rapid cell migration in wound healing and cancer metastasis—particularly in aggressive cancers, such as glioblastoma and colon cancers—and it is with an understanding of AQPs that we can diagnose various types of cancer.

The Aquaporin Physiology and Drug Discovery laboratory aims to define the molecular basis of AQP function, understand the roles of AQPs in physiological systems, and build a definitive portfolio of AQP antagonist and agonist compounds as tools for basic research and clinical innovation.  

Our work over the past decade has challenged the assumptions about AQP function, leading to the existence of new knowledge of AQPs as ion channels, and as osmotic water channels We have also defined the first library of pharmacological agents in the world and are now working with traditional Chinese and Indian medicinal herbs, as well as testing potentially powerful dual therapies for blocking cell migration.  

Our findings offer exciting translational opportunities for clinical intervention in cancer metastasis, brain oedema, hydrocephalus, and other fluid transport disorders. Our drug agents are currently being tested in collaborative projects in Australia, Europe and the United States of America.

Lead researcher: Professor Andrea Yool

Research team

Research support
  • Pak Hin (Jeffrey) Chow
  • Saeed Nourmohammadi 
  • Jinxin (Victor) Pei (PhD candidate) 
  • Michael De Ieso (PhD candidate)  
  • Mohamad Kourghi (PhD candidate) 


  • Professor David Adelson, Professor Steve Tyerman, Dr Caitlin Byrt, the University of Adelaide, Australia
  • Professor Marcus Stoodley, Macquarie University, Australia 
  • Professor Neil Spratt, University of Newcastle, Australia
  • Professor François Chaumont, Université Catholique de Louvain, Belgium 
  • Assistant Professor Jeff Iliff, Oregon Health Sciences Center, United States of America (USA)
  • Dr Elna Saah, Michigan State University, USA

Interested in undertaking a postgraduate research degree with us?

We offer exciting opportunities for researchers at the honours, masters and PhD levels. Our research degrees are open to students from a broad range of backgrounds, and range from basic sciences to clinical research. If you are interested in human health, consider furthering your research career with us.