Water is one of the essential elements on earth. All plants, animals, and humans must have water to survive. Nevertheless, there are still mysteries surrounding the way water is conveyed through the human body. For hundreds of years, scientists have wondered how water molecules are selectively transported through cell membranes. The secret of aquaporins was eventually discovered in 1992 by Dr. Peter Agre, who won the 2003 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his discovery and investigation of the water channels.
In his speech given at the 65th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting in 2015, Agre encouraged young people worldwide to devote their creativity to the further development of science. He also celebrated the unpredictability of science, given that his discovery of aquaporins has often been described as “by chance”. When Agre’s team discovered a new red cell membrane protein, now known as Aquaporin 1, they did not know that what they had found was the water channel that physiologists have been seeking for over 100 years, nor did they anticipate that one of the aquaporins would open up a promising new approach towards sepsis treatment.
Discoveries and innovations often occur at the intersections of multiple fields, disciplines, and cultures. This Supertrends report aims to cast a spotlight on one such breakthrough. As Lars Tvede, author, entrepreneur, and investor, explains in his book Supertrends, “Innovation is chiefly about combining existing things in new ways.” By developing potentially groundbreaking applications of aquaporins, researchers hope to discover a promising novel approach to solving the challenge of sepsis that is as old as humanity itself.