Prof. Helen McCarthy

School of Pharmacy, Quenn’s University – UK

“Therapeutic Nucleic Acid Vaccinations: RALA peptide-mediated gene delivery via dissolving microneedles

Prof McCarthy’s research team have focused on the development of non-viral delivery systems for nanomedicine applications in the School of Pharmacy. These biomimetic peptide systems are designed to overcome the extra and intracellular barriers, so that the macromolecular payload can be delivered at the destination site in order to exert the optimal therapeutic effect. Helen has designed and patented three delivery systems. Current research projects involve gene therapy for metastatic deposits; miRNA therapeutics for oncology and wound healing applications; mRNA and DNA vaccination strategies; and regeneration of bone by increasing the bioavailability of ceramics. The wide-spread utility of these delivery systems has led to a spin-out company Phion Therapeutics We currently have two internal projects funded by Innovate UK, several commercial partners, one of which includes Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult for ex vivo applications of our technology.


Dr Sarah Jones

Faculty of Pharmacy University of Wolverhampton – UK

“Spermatozoa and Schmidtea mediterranea as alternative models for the evaluation of CPPs and bioportides: Progress towards a non-hormonal male contraceptive and generation of a novel CPP

Dr Sarah Jones is a Reader in Pharmacology and a member of the Molecular Pharmacology Research Group at the University of Wolverhampton. For the past 20 years, Sarah’s research has focussed on Cell Penetrating Peptides (CPPs) and she has played a major role in the development of bioactive CPPs, bioportides. This has resulted in a paradigm shift from the use of CPPs merely as inert vectors, to their applicability and therapeutic utility as modulators of intracellular protein-protein interactions. Identification of these novel cryptic CPPs within key signalling proteins has resulted in scientific publications regarding the utility of bioportide technology in apoptosis, angiogenesis and Parkinson’s disease pathophysiology. In 2013, the Molecular Pharmacology Group reported that CPPs readily enter spermatozoa. This development precipitated the subsequent identification of bioportides capable of penetrating human sperm cells to modulate the activities of intracellular proteins that control calcium signalling, motility and fertilisation capacity and as such has laid the foundations for the development of a non-hormonal male contraceptive.


Dr Meritxell Teixidó

Institute for Research in Biomedicine IRB Barcelona Institute of Science and Technology – Spain

“Blood-Brain Barrier Shuttle Peptides, From Discovery to Applications

Dr. Teixidó’s major interests are in the field of peptide synthesis and the discovery of peptide shuttles able to reach the brain and increase the transport of a wide range of cargoes including drugs, nanoparticles or diagnostic agents. With this aim, she is developing a toolbox of protease resistant BBB-shuttle peptides, mass spectrometry techniques and transport evaluation tools to be used to discover new shuttles that will improve the delivery of cargoes to the brain.

Meritxell Teixidó has published around 50 scientific articles and reviews and she has participated in 7 patents. In 2007 she won the American Peptide Idol first prize at the 20th American Peptide Symposium in Montreal, Canada. Since 2010 she is the national representative in the European Peptide Society Council and Chairperson of the next 36th EPS (European Peptide Symposium) and 12th IPS (International Peptide Symposium) (Barcelona, Sept 2020).

Dr. Teixidó has presented various oral communications in national and international scientific meetings. She has co-directed 8 doctoral theses. During her career, she has participated in several research projects founded by different national and international agencies and different patient associations. Together with Ernest Giralt she is principal investigator in the I+D project from MINECO: Peptides as therapeutic agents: modulation of protein-protein interactions and brain delivery.

In addition she has participated in various collaborations with industry (Menarini Laboratories, Farmhispania, Pharmamar, Cancer Research Technology, Zyentia Ltd., Janssen, Bioingenium, L’Oreal). More recently and through the initiatives such as Llavor, Producte, MAP-EADA and XXI Fòrum d’Inversió ACCIÓ, she has gain training and expertise in the Biotech Entrepreneur Arena.


Dr Kaido Kurrikoff

Institute for Technology University of Tartu – Estonia

“Delivery of Therapeutic Nucleic Acid with CPPs – Development Towards Mammalian Models and Applications in Biotechnology

Kaido Kurrikoff is a researcher at the Institute of Technology, University of Tartu, Estonia. He acquired his PhD degree (Neurosciences) at the University of Tartu, in 2009, focusing in the field of neurochemistry, psychopharmacology, and behavioral neurosciences. He did his postdoctoral training in Stockholm University, working under the supervision of Prof Ülo Langel, who is one of the founders of the field of cell penetrating peptides (CPP).

His main research interests are related to development of nucleic acid delivery systems and applications of drug delivery vectors in vivo. Thus he has worked with various models of cancer, lung diseases and trans-BBB delivery. He is also involved in development of CPP-based transfection methods, applicable in mammalian cell factories for the production of therapeutic proteins.


Prof. Ines Neundorf

Institute for Biochemistry University of Cologne – Germany

“Towards the design and biological activity of cell-permeable peptide-drug conjugates

Prof. Dr. Ines Neundorf studied chemistry at the Universities of Freiburg and Leipzig. 2003 she obtained her PhD in Organic Chemistry (Leipzig University) and afterwards joined the group of Prof. A. G. Beck-Sickinger (Institute of Biochemistry, Leipzig University). 2011 she was appointed as Juniorprofessor for Biochemistry at the Institute for Biochemistry, University of Cologne, and since 2016 she is full professor at the same Institute.

Her main research interests are in the fields of membrane-active peptides, with a focus on cell-penetrating and antimicrobial peptides. Particularly, the use of chemical methods to tune cell selectivity of these peptides or to reach specific intracellular targets, as well as the synthesis and application of peptide-drug conjugates, are main topics in her group.


Dr Henry D. Herce

Dana-Farber Cancer Institute & Harvard Medical School Boston, Massachusetts, USA

“Cell-Penetrating Peptides: From molecular mechanisms to therapeutic applications

My interest centers on transforming peptides into cell-permeable in vivo active therapeutic compounds and the design of molecular tools to validate their activity in vitro and in vivo. I combine multidisciplinary theoretical and experimental methods to understand the mechanisms of uptake of cell-penetrating peptides and tackle this property to design cell-permeable therapeutic peptides. As an undergraduate I studied physics in Argentina (Institute Balseiro), obtained a PhD in physics in US (North Carolina State University), as a postdoc I trained on bioinformatics in US (Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute) and on Biology in Germany (Technische Universität Darmstadt). During this time I focused on arginine-rich cell-penetrating peptides. Currently I am at Harvard Medical School and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute developing therapeutic cell-permeable stapled peptides.


Dr Diana Costa

CICS-UBI Universidade Beira Interior  ―  Covilha – Portugal

“Exploring the potential of peptide-plasmid DNA vectors for gene delivery in cancer therapy

Diana Costa studied Chemistry at the Chemistry Department from the Faculty of Science and Technology, University of Coimbra, Portugal. She completed her PhD on the development of covalent DNA gels for delivery purposes, in 2009 at the University of Coimbra, Portugal. During her PhD studies, she also works at the Physical Chemistry Department from Lund University, Sweden and at the Karl-Franzens Institute from Graz University, Austria. She is currently a Principal Researcher at Health Sciences Research Centre, University of Beira Interior, Covilhã Portugal (CICS-UBI). Her research focus in the area of Biotechnology/Biomaterials Engineering, mainly on the Biomolecular and Biomaterials research for the development of novel therapeutic systems (micro, nanoparticulated or others) for targeted and controlled drug and/or gene delivery on nuclear and mitochondrial gene therapies field. In this context, currently, her research area covers the development of cell-penetrating peptide based delivery systems to operate therapeutically in a broad range of clinical applications.


Dr Christopher Aisenbrey

Laboratoire des Biophysique des Membranes et RMN Université de Strasbourg  ―  Strasbourg- France

“The LAH4 system for DNA delivery: The metamorphosis of a model peptide to a medical tool

He studied physics in Freiburg im Breisgau, Brighton and Heidelberg and finished 1999 with a master degree at the German cancer research center (DKFZ) in Heidelberg. He did his PhD studies at the Max Planck Institut for Biochemistry in Martinsried and the University of Strasbourg under the supervision of Burkhard Bechinger and received 2003 the PhD degree from the University of Strasbourg. He broadened his expertise in PostDoc position at the Startup Company AC Immune, the University of Umeå and the University of Srasbourg. In 2014 he was recruted as chargé de recherche at CNRS (UMR 7177 university of Strasbourg/CNRS).

His main interst is the investigation of membrane peptides by solid state NMR and other biophysical methods like fluorescence, cirular dichroism and others. He is working on a peptide assisted enodsomal delivery system (LAH4). Is not a classical cell penetrating peptide, but it can serve a similar goal.


Dr Astrid Walrant

Laboratoire des Biomolécules LBM Sorbonne Université  ―  Paris – France

“Contributions of PIP2 to Penetratin internalization biophysical and affinity photocrosslinking approaches

I did my PhD in Paris, at the Laboratoire des Biomolecules, Pierre et Marie Curie University, under the supervision of Isabel Alves and Sandrine Sagan, between 2008 and 2011. My PhD work focused on the analysis of peptide/membrane interactions in the context of cell penetrating peptides.

In 2012, I joined Jenny Gallop’s group at the Gurdon Institute, Cambridge University, as a postdoctoral research fellow. I worked on the regulation of actin polymerisation by lipid membranes. My work focused on the regulatory role of certain phosphoinositides, membrane curvature and curvature-inducing proteins.

In 2014, I came back to Paris and joined the Laboratoire des Biomolecules as Assistant Professor attached to the Chemistry Faculty. My research focuses on the analysis of the mechanism of action of membrane active peptides (cell penetrating, antimicrobial, viral…) at a molecular level, using biophysical approaches.


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