A Report on the 10th International Meeting on Antimicrobial Peptides (IMAP)

CONFERENCE REPORT
10th International Meeting on Antimicrobial Peptides (IMAP)
Trieste, Italy, 6 – 8 September 2023

The 10th IMAP (International Meeting on Antimicrobial Peptides) was held at the University of Trieste , Italy, from the 6th to the 8th of September, 2023 www.peptideconferences.org/imap-2023.

Since its first edition in 2008 in Leipzig, this annual Meeting has attracted a significantly increasing number of participants, especially among young scientists with a common interest in peptide science. Unfortunately, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the 10th IMAP, originally scheduled for September 2020, was postponed until 2023. Despite this interruption, the meeting succeeded in renewing the interest in antimicrobial peptide (AMP) science, bringing together more than 100 attendees. This has stimulated intense interaction among them and prompted the establishment of scientific collaborations as well as interpersonal relationships.

Meeting Location Attendants/Participants
IMAP 2008 Leipzig, Germany 40 participants from 8 countries
IMAP 2012 Leipzig, Germany 110 participants from 9 countries
IMAP 2013 London, UK 55 participants from 22 countries
IMAP 2014 Graz, Austria 65 participants from 15 countries
IMAP 2015 London, UK 78 participants from 14 countries
IMAP 2016 Leipzig, Germany 120 participants from 26 countries
IMAP 2017 Copenhagen, Denmark 105 participants from 23 countries
IMAP 2018 Edinburgh, UK 144 participants from 29 countries
IMAP 2019 Utrecht, Netherlands 144 participants from 26 countries
IMAP 2023 Trieste, Italy 117 participants from 24 countries

The current conference has covered different topics within the field of AMPs, from their Prediction, Design & Synthesis; Prediction from Data Mining; Mechanism of Action and Resistance; AMPs on Surfaces & Biomaterials; AMPs/Host defense peptides (HDPs) in Immunomodulation to Applications & Therapeutics. The Organizing Committee consisted of Alessandro Tossi and Marco Scocchi, University of Trieste (co-chairs); Edwin Veldhuizen, Utrecht University; Lidia Feliu (Universitat de Girona); Kai Hilpert (St. George’s University of London) Ralf Hoffmann (Leipzig University); Maria Luisa Mangoni (Sapienza University of Rome). As with previous IMAPs, it was agreed that such a meeting should encourage the participation of PhD students and postdocs and provide them with plenty of space to present their skills and to divulge the results of their scientific work.

Ralf Hoffmann organized the first meeting in Leipzig in 2008 as a one-day meeting with about 40 participants from 8 countries. The 10th IMAP attracted a total of 117 international participants from 24 countries and apart from renowned experts on the topic (48 senior scientists), also young researchers, including 21 postdocs and 40 graduate students, who enjoyed the exchange of experiences and ideas in a friendly and informal atmosphere.

Group photo of Participants of the 10th IMAP

EPS sponsorship was acknowledged by the organizers during the meeting and the logo of the Society was displayed on screen between presentations, on the printed material of the conference as well as on the website of the IMAP meeting.

Scientific and Social Programme

The keynote lecture was given by Prof. Charles Bevins (UC Davis) a pioneer in the field of AMPs, who spoke about the “New Insights on Human Paneth Cell Defensins”.

Keynote Speaker Prof. Charles Bevins

During the symposium, seven lectures were presented  by the following invited speakers:

Alexander Mankin, from University of Illinois at Chicago who spoke about “Antibacterial peptides that target translation termination

Lorenzo Stella from Tor Vergata University, Rome who spoke aboutQuantitative studies on the affinity and kinetics of AMP interaction with live bacterial cells: lessons learned and new questions.”

Neil O’Brien-Simpson, from University of Melbourne who spoke about “Using AMPs to improve implant success rates, by eliminating infection and aiding bone and tissue adhesion.”

Henk Haagsman, from Utrecht University who spoke aboutReprogramming the innate immune system by cathelicidin-derived peptides.”

Miguel Castanho, from iMM University of Lisbon, who spoke about “A broad spectrum antiviral peptide-drug conjugate targeting the brain, from design to in vivo activity.”

Marina Rautenbach, from Stellenbosch University who talked about “Unlocking the natural potential of the sticky tyrocidines for self-sterilizing applications.”

Sonia Maffioli, from NAICONS who spoke about “Lantibiotics and lanthipeptides discovered at

NAICONS.”

View of the Lecture Room

Of the 93 abstracts submitted, the Scientific Board selected 22 for oral presentation and 19 for rapid oral presentation.

In total, there were four sessions, most if which included at least one presentation by invited speakers. The first session was dedicated to Prediction, Design & Synthesis; the second one was focused on Mode of Action & Resistance; the third one was dedicated to AMPs on Surfaces & Biomaterials followed by the final session on AMPs / HDPs in Immunomodulation.

The 49 abstracts that were not selected for oral presentation were presented by scientists during poster sessions held during lunch breaks on September 6 and 7. Unfortunately, of the 93 abstracts originally submitted, 3 were withdrawn because the authors could not obtain travel funds.

Participants viewing and discussing the posters

Italian Peptide Society (ItPS) sponsored the registration fee of a young Italian ItPS member

The poster prizes were presented by Prof. John Wade, representing the Protein & Peptide Science Group of the Royal Society of Chemistry (sponsors of the poster competition) and Dr. Edwin Veldhuizen (chair of the judging panel). The winners of the Poster Competition were:

  • 1st place Richard Lalor, University of Galway, for his poster ”Sm16, a Schistosoma cathelicidin-like immuno-modulator ”,
  • 2nd place Ons Kharrat, CNRS, Orleans, for her poster ”Molecular Overviews of the Essential Interaction with Fungal Glucosylceramides In the Antifungal Activity of the Insect Defensin ETD151”.

Winners of Poster competition

The social events of IMAP included 5 coffee-breaks, a welcome reception and 3 lunches, all served at the Conference Venue.

Participants during coffee/lunch break and welcome reception

The social dinner was held at the Caffè degli Specchi restaurant located on the beautiful Piazza Unità d’Italia and was enjoyed by over 60 participants, organizing committee members and speakers (Photo 7).

The social dinner at Caffè degli Specchi.

IMAP 2024 will take place in King’s College, London, UK in early September 2024 (the final date is yet to be fixed).

Contributed by Marialuisa Mangoni