A Report on the 14th Chemistry & Biology of Peptides Meeting

CONFERENCE REPORT
14th Chemistry & Biology of Peptides Meeting: Hot Topics.
Wolverhampton, UK, 25th July 2019.

On 25th July and in the midst of the latest European heatwave, the University of Wolverhampton hosted the 14th Chemistry & Biology of Peptides Meeting. Undeterred by such climatic extremes, 120 delegates assembled into the historic Chancellors Hall, a laudable testament to their commitment to peptide science as soaring temperatures broke record levels for the UK in July.

This annual mini-symposium is organised by the British Peptide Society under the auspices of the Protein and Peptide Science Group of the Royal Society of Chemistry and the EPS. This year, in what was a truly international gathering, the meeting focussed on advances made in the field of Cell Penetrating Peptides (CPPs). The scientific committee included Dr Sarah Jones and Prof. John Howl (University of Wolverhampton, UK), Dr Fabienne Burlina (Sorbonne University, France), Dr John Offer (British Peptide Society) and Dr Peter White (Merck, UK). Both young and established researchers, from academia and industry, were brought together so as to explore and debate many chemical and biological aspects of peptide science in relation to intracellular delivery.

Participants from the UK and other countries (Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Japan, Nigeria, South Africa, Switzerland and USA) were treated to an impressive array of internationally renowned speakers from afar as the USA, Japan, Finland, France, Germany and Wales. The symposium started with a lecture by Prof. Dehua Pei (The Ohio State University) who presented new strategies for “Drugging undruggable targets with macrocyclic peptides” and it was concluded by Dr Mike Gait (Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Cambridge) who showed impressive results on the development of “Peptide conjugates of morpholino oligonucleotides as treatments for neuromuscular diseases”. The program also included seven other invited lectures given by international experts in the field: Dr Ian Eggleston (University of Bath), Prof. Shiroh Futaki (University of Kyoto), Prof. Christian Hackenberger (FMP, Humboldt University, Berlin), Prof. John Howl (University of Wolverhampton), Prof. Arwyn Tomos Jones (Cardiff University), Prof. Pirjo Laakkonen (University of Helsinki) and Dr Sandrine Sagan (Sorbonne University).

In a convivial and engaged atmosphere, the interdisciplinary program covered different aspects of cellular delivery, from the design of metabolically-stable cyclic CPPs to the therapeutic applications of peptide carriers. New data on the cellular uptake mechanisms of CPPs and targeting approaches were presented at the meeting, which stimulated much discussion amongst the attendees. Innovative strategies for cancer therapy were also presented with the use of homing peptides and novel targets, or with the combined application of CPPs and photodynamic therapy. Last but not least, exciting developments towards a non-hormonal male contraceptive using CPP technologies were revealed. In summary, following some extremely positive feedback, this year’s symposium spanned a diversity of CPP topics whilst synergising the disciplines of Chemistry & Biology within the world of Peptide Science.

The organisers would like thank the University of Wolverhampton for hosting the meeting and providing such a convenient city centre venue. We are also extremely grateful to those who provided invaluable assistance on the day including, Dr Mark Hewitt, Dr Mark Honey, Christine Djuku, Rachel Fellows, Ben Mantel, Gilly and Tina (G&T), Abhishek Gupta and Dr Sarah Brown: The meeting was a success thanks in particular to Laura Wickens and Dipisha Patel who helped with organisation and logistics and made sure that conditions remained comfortable for the attendees despite the remarkably high temperature.

The organisers would also like to thank the European Peptide Society, the Protein and Peptide Science Group, the Royal Society of Chemistry, our gold sponsors Merck and CS Bio, as well as Almac, Alta Bioscience, Bachem, CEM, CRB, Gyros Protein Technology, Peptides International and Sygnature Discovery for their generous financial support.

Contributed by Sarah Jones

Clockwise from top left, Dr Sandrine Sagan, Prof. Dehua Pei and Prof. Christian Hackenberger. Photography by Ben Mantel

Clockwise from top left, Prof. Pirjo Laakkonen, Dr Ian Eggleston, Prof. Shiroh Futaki and Prof. John Howl. Photography by Ben Mantel

Clockwise from top left, Mathilde Le Jeune, Dr Fabienne Burlina, Dr Laurent Caron, Dr Peter White, Dr Richard Raz, Prof. Arwyn Tomos Jones and Dr Sarah Jones. Photography by Ben Mantel

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