IMPORTANT LEGAL NOTICE - The information on this site is subject to adisclaimerand acopyright notice
Contact   |   Search  
Graphical element Graphical element Graphical element Graphical element Graphical element Graphical element Graphical element Graphical element Graphical element
Cell factory - BAck to the homepage Graphic element Graphical element
Foreword Graphic element Graphical element
Introduction Graphical element
Index by Index by Area Index by Partners Index by Keywords Gr&phic element Graphical element
Volume 1 Graphical element
Graphical element Graphical element

Aquaporin blockers for novel skin care products and diuretics



Cell factory area


EU Contribution

1 747 168 Euro


36 months


Research project

Starting date


aquaporin blockers
skin care products
Graphical element

Graphical element
Graphical element

Disturbances of body water balance severely affect the quality of life and can lead to life-threatening conditions. Aquaporin (AQP) water channels play central roles in human water balance and are novel targets for pharmacological intervention.

To screen for blockers (aquaplugs) of AQPs, mammalian and yeast cell systems will be established. Inhibitors of aquaporin function will be identified in compound libraries and rationally designed. The activity, specificity and toxicity profile of these aquaplugs will be determined in optimised cell- and integrated systems. The atomic structures of AQPs and AQP-aquaplug complexes will be elucidated and used to design optimised aquaporin inhibitors. Studies will be performed to further determine the role of AQPs in organ water balance in health and disease to identify additional conditions where AQPs are targets for pharmaceutical application of aquaplugs. Identified aquaplugs with promising profiles will serve as lead structures for the development and exploitation of specific aquaporin inhibitors in novel skin care products and diuretics.

Graphical element
Graphical element

The overall goal of this project is to establish the basis for the development of innovative skin care products and diuretics on the basis of inhibitors of aquaporin (AQP) function. To achieve these goals the research objectives are:

  • To establish test and screening systems for aquaporin blockers (aquaplugs) in yeast and mammalian cells.
  • To establish test systems in tissues and animals to test the function, specificity and potential toxicity of putative aquaplugs.
  • To identify compounds inhibiting aquaporin function in compound libraries.
  • To design aquaplugs on the basis of substrate analogues.
  • To determine and refine the structure of specific AQPs as a basis for further optimisation of aquaplug activity and specificity.
  • To determine the sites of interaction between AQPs and their inhibitors by structural and mutational analysis to further optimise the blockers.
  • To generate new knowledge on the physiological and pathophysiological role of aquaporins to identify further conditions where they could be targets for intervention.

The results of this project will be exploited through a world leader in skin care products and a new start-up company.

Graphical element
Graphical element

Alternative and complementary approaches at different levels are planned to achieve our goals:

Various cell based test and screening systems. Yeast and mammalian cell systems expressing different aquaporins (AQPs) will be established and used to:

  • Screen for compounds that block AQP function (aquaplugs).
  • Analyse their specificity and mode of action.

Various integrated test systems. In order to study the activity, selectivity and toxic effects of putative aquaplugs in integrated systems, ex vivo and animal model test systems will be established.

Various approaches to identify AQP blockers. Established yeast and mammalian cell systems will be used to screen for AQP blockers in compound libraries. Further, compounds will be rationally designed and selected on the basis of substrate analogues that can be transported through different AQPs when expressed in yeast.

Effects of aquaplugs in cells, tissue and animals. The established cell-based systems will be used to determine the activity, specificity and toxicity of identified putative AQP blockers. Promising candidates will be analysed in integrated systems.

Structure of aquaporins. The structure of AQPs at the atomic 3D level will be established in order to understand how AQP blockers function. This will be the basis for the rational design of optimised AQP blockers.

Structure-function relationships. Analysis of AQP-aquaplug complexes at the atomic level and functional analysis of AQP mutants with altered selectivity will validate the proposed AQP model. Additionally, spontaneous mutations in expressed AQPs will be identified in yeast test systems following the selection for transport of alternative substrates, which will provide information on structure-function relationships.

Other AQPs as new targets for aquaporin blockers. It will be tested whether AQP expression levels in different organs are increased under conditions of elevated water permeability. This information may identify new targets for pharmaceutical intervention with AQP blockers.

Graphical element
Graphical element

The expected deliverables are:

  • Systems to identify and analyse AQP blockers, which support quality assessment of optimised aquaplugs in the process of product development.
  • Compounds that block the AQP function, which form the basis for novel skin care products and diuretics.
  • Knowledge of the structure, function, specificity and toxicity of AQPs, which is essential for the rational design of optimised aquaplugs and their application in health care.
  • Knowledge of the roles of AQPs and their validity as targets for aquaplugs.
Graphical element
Graphical element
  Dr. Peter MT Deen
162, dept. of Cell Physiology
University of Nijmegen
6500 HB Nijmegen, The Netherlands
Tel: +31 243617347
Fax: +31 243540525

  Prof. Stefan Hohmann
Dept of Cell and Molecular Biology
Göteborg University
405 30 Göteborg, Sweden
Tel: +46 317732595
Fax: +46 317732599

Prof. Soren Nielsen
Dept of Cell Biology, Institute of Anatomy
University of Aarhus
8000 Aarhus, Denmark
Tel: +45 89423046
Fax: +45 86198664

Prof. Andreas Engel
M.E. Muller Institute for Microscopy
University of Basel
4056 Basel, Switzerland
Tel: +41 612672261/62
Fax: +41 612672109

Dr. Helmut Grubmueller
Max-Planck-Institut fuer biophys. Chemie
37077 Göttingen, Germany
Tel: +49 5512011763
Fax: +49 5512011089

Dr. Ornella Fumagalli
Cosmed-Research Personal Care
Beiersdorf AG
20257 Hamburg, Germany
Tel: +49 4049094146
Fax: +49 40186646

Prof. Sabine L Flitsch
Dept of Chemistry
University of Edinburgh
EH9 3JJ Edinburgh, United Kingdom
Tel: +44 1316504743
Fax: +44 1316504737
Graphical element