Going Viral: Harnessing the power of host defence peptides

Professorial Lecture Series 2019/20
Professor Peter Barlow, Professor of Immunology & Infection, School of Applied Sciences
Thursday 27 February 2020

Going Viral: Harnessing The Power of Host Defence Peptides


In his inaugural lecture, Professor Barlow provided an overview of how host defence peptides, from humans and animals, could be used to combat viruses such as Influenza virus, Dengue virus and Rhinovirus, a primary cause of the common cold. Peter Barlow in the Lindsay Stewart teathre

"It was such a delight to deliver my inaugural Professorial lecture in front of my family, my friends and my colleagues, all of whom have supported me on this journey.  I also feel incredibly grateful for the ongoing support of my international collaborators, as well as the University for all of the opportunities I have been given which have led me to becoming a Professor.  I was so excited to share the work that the talented individuals in my group are undertaking in terms of developing new therapies for viral infections, and I hope that we can make a real difference to the lives of people affected by these diseases.”

Peter’s research focuses upon understanding the multiple roles of host defence peptides during infection, with a view to developing novel antimicrobial therapeutics. Host Defence Peptides, also known as antimicrobial peptides, are key components of the immune response. These peptides have been shown to display a wide range of antibacterial and antiviral activities, as well as having the capacity to modulate the immune response to infection. As such, they are exciting molecules for informing the design of novel drugs.  

The aim of Professor Barlow’s work is to develop fast acting, highly specific and broad-spectrum antiviral therapeutics, that would be particularly beneficial to those at highest risk from respiratory viral infections. Looking into the future, Professor Barlow is currently working to design new host defence peptides that are resistant to degradation and have enhanced activity, as well as investigating their activity in other viral diseases such as Covid-19.

Peter Barlow and Gary Hutchinson at Craiglockhart campus
Peter with Professor Gary Hutchison, Dean of School of Applied Sciences