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Novel peptide based immunomodulatory therapeutics for influenza virus infection

School of Applied Sciences

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Dr P Barlow , Dr C Stevens No more applications being accepted Self-Funded PhD Students Only

About the Project

Influenza virus is one of the most common pathogens that is associated with viral pneumonia in children and adults. Seasonal influenza infections represent an ongoing global threat with the potential ermergence of pandemic strains with high mortality rates. While the development of effective vaccines are the ideal solution to this, therapeutic options to treat influenza infection are limited, and new treatments for this virus are urgently required.

Host defence peptides, also known as antimicrobial peptides, are important molecules that form part of the innate immune response to infection. We and others have shown that they possess powerful antiviral and immunomodulatory activity, and they are able to alter host cell responses to viral infection. As such, they represent an exciting opportunity for therapeutic development in the context of modulating the host cell response to influenza infection.

This project will investigate the potential for synthetic therapeutic derivatives of naturally occurring host defence peptides to be used as therapeutics against influenza virus infection.

Academic qualifications
A first degree (at least a 2.1) ideally in Biomedical Science or Microbiology with a good fundamental knowledge of host pathogen interactions and molecular biology.

English language requirement
IELTS score must be at least 6.5 (with not less than 6.0 in each of the four components). Other, equivalent qualifications will be accepted. Full details of the University’s policy are available online.

Essential attributes:
• Experience of fundamental laboratory skills and cell/pathogen culture
• Competent in protein analysis and PCR
• Knowledge of mediators of innate immunity
• Good written and oral communication skills
• Strong motivation, with evidence of independent research skills relevant to the project
• Good time management

Desirable attributes:
Virus handling experience, confocal microscopy

Funding Notes

This is a self-funded position
Please quote project code SAS0072 in your enquiry and application.

• Completed application form
• CV
• 2 academic references, using the Postgraduate Educational Reference Form (Found on the application process page)
• A personal research statement (This should include (a) a brief description of your relevant experience and skills, (b) an indication of
what you would uniquely bring to the project and (c) a statement of how this project fits with your future direction.)
• Evidence of proficiency in English (if appropriate)


Casanova, V., Sousa, F.H., Svoboda, P., Buch, C., D’Acremont, M., Christophorou, M.A., Pohl, J., Stevens, C. and Barlow, P.G. (2020) Citrullination alters the antiviral and immunomodulatory activities of the human cathelicidin LL-37 during rhinovirus infection. Frontiers in Immunology. 11:85.

Sousa, F.H., Casanova, V., Findlay, F., Stevens, C., Svoboda, P., Pohl, J., Proudfoot, L. and Barlow, P.G. (2017) Cathelicidins display conserved direct antiviral activity towards rhinovirus. Peptides. 95: 76-83.

Sousa, F.H., Casanova, V., Stevens, C. and Barlow, P.G. (2016) Antiviral host defense peptides. In Host Defence Peptides and Their Potential As Therapeutic Agents. R.M. Epand (Ed) Springer-Verlag Inc, Heidelberg.

Barlow, P.G., Svoboda, P., Mackellar, A., Nash, A.A., York, I.A., Pohl, J., Davidson, D.J. and Donis, R.O. (2011) Antiviral activity and increased host defense against influenza infection elicited by the human cathelicidin LL-37. PLoS One. 6(10): e25.333
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