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Biomolecules Webinar series: Understanding the Potential of Host Defense Peptides in Treating Cancer

26 Aug 2020, 00:00

Cancer, Host Defense Peptides, Anti-cancer Peptides, Antimicrobial Peptides
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Webinar Information

Webinar Series on Biomolecules - an Open Access Journal

Understanding the Potential of Host Defense Peptides in Treating Cancer

Cancer is the second leading cause of death globally. There is an urgent need to discover novel treatments for cancer that are curative and not associated with considerable toxicity. The identification of suitable drug targets is a major obstacle in cancer treatment strategies. Host defense peptides (HDPs) are biomolecules typically containing several cationic and hydrophobic amino acids that interact with the cell membrane, resulting in anti-microbial, anti-cancer and immune modulatory activity. Anti-cancer peptides (ACPs) exhibit increased toxicity towards cancer cells (compared to normal cells). The structure of ACPs impacts their mechanism of action and a better understanding of ACPs will have clinical relevance.

This Webinar relates to the Special Issue Understanding the Potential of Host Defense Peptides in Treating Cancer.

Date & Time: 26 August 2020 10:00am (PT) | 2:00pm (ADT) | 7:00pm (CEST)

Chairs: Dr. Melanie R. Power Coombs, Prof. Dr. David W. Hoskin

Speakers: Prof. Dr. Hans J. Vogel, Prof. Dr. Valerie Booth, Dr. Evan Haney

Webinar ID: 843 6975 2868

Webinar Secretariat:

This webinar will include the following experts:

Dr. Melanie R. Power Coombs

Dr. Melanie Coombs’s research interests include the investigation of the anti-cancer and immunomodulatory effects of natural products such as phytochemicals and anti-microbial peptides at a cellular and molecular level. A recent focus has been to examine the anti-microbial peptide mastoparan from wasp venom, and derivatives of it, to study the mechanisms of action on killing cancer cells as well as effects on immune cell function. Investigations will examine the potential of these as future anti-cancer or immunomodulatory treatments.

Department of Biology, Acadia University, Wolfville, Canada; Department of Pathology, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Canada

Prof. Dr. David W. Hoskin

Dr. David Hoskin has found that a fragment of milk protein known as lactoferricin triggers the death of cancer cells obtained from a wide range of human malignancies, including breast, colon and ovarian tumors and various leukemias and lymphomas. Recent studies from the Hoskin laboratory have focused on the anticancer activity of pleurocidins. Dr. Hoskin is currently working on methods to deliver these anti-cancer peptides directly to cancer cells.

Departments of Pathology, Microbiology and Immunology, and Surgery, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Canada

Prof. Dr. Hans J. Vogel

Dr. Vogel completed his original academic training at the University of Groningen in The Netherlands, which was followed by a PhD degree from the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada. After a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Lund, Sweden, he joined the University of Calgary, where he was appointed in 1985, and promoted to Full Professor in 1991. Over the years he has led an active and successful research group, working in different research areas, such as calcium- and iron-binding proteins, metabolomics and host-defense peptides. His group published more than 450 widely cited scientific publications. His research on antimicrobial peptides has recently expanded into the areas of antibiofilm, antifungal and anticancer activities.

Biochemistry Research Group, Department of Biological Sciences, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Prof. Dr. Valerie Booth

Because she could not decide what to be when she grew up, Valerie Booth became a biophysicist and now enjoys working at the interface between biochemistry and physics. She holds a BSc in Physics from the University of Victoria, an MSc in Biophysics from the University of Waterloo, and a PhD in Medical Biophysics from the University of Toronto. She has been a professor at Memorial University of Newfoundland since 2005, where she researches lung surfactant, antimicrobial peptides, and molecular crowding.

Department of Biochemistry, Department of Physics and Physical Oceanography, Memorial University of Newfoundland, Canada

Dr. Evan Haney

Dr. Haney graduated in 2004 with a BSc (Honours) in Biochemistry and received his doctoral degree in 2011, both from the University of Calgary, Canada. His PhD work, under the supervision of Dr. Hans Vogel, focused on structural and biophysical characterization of antimicrobial peptides to elucidate their antibacterial mechanism of action. He is currently a Research Associate in the laboratory of Dr. Robert Hancock (University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada), where he investigates host defense peptides and their potential as therapeutics ‒ in addition to their antimicrobial effects, they also possess immunomodulatory, anti-biofilm, and anti-tumorigenic properties.

Hancock Lab, Centre for Microbial Diseases and Immunity Research, Department of Microbiology and Immunology, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada

Webinar Program

The webinar will start at 10:00 am (PT) | 2:00 pm (ADT) | 7:00pm (CEST) 26 August 2020 and will last a maximum of 2 hours.




2:00 pm (ADT)

Prof. Dr. David W. Hoskin and Dr. Melanie R. Power Coombs:


2:05 pm (ADT)

Prof. Dr. Hans J. Vogel:

"Selective Anticancer Activities of Trp- and Arg-rich Antimicrobial Peptides"

2:20 pm (ADT)


2:40 pm (ADT)

Prof. Dr. Valerie Booth:

"Histidine-rich HDPs and HDP-induced Membrane Disruption of Intact Cells as Studied by NMR"

2:45 pm (ADT)


3:05 pm (ADT)

Dr. Evan Haney:

"Designing Synthetic Host Defense Peptides with Improved Selectivity for Cancer Cells"

3:10 pm (ADT)


3:30 pm (ADT)

Discussion and Concluding Remarks

3:35 pm (ADT)

Webinar content

The second Biomolecules webinar, “Understanding the Potential of Host Defense Peptides in Treating Cancer", was held on Wednesday 26 August, 2020. It was chaired by Dr. Melanie R. Power Coombs and Prof. Dr. David W. Hoskin.

This online seminar focused on anti-cancer peptides, a group of biomolecules that present a novel area for potential cancer treatments. The mechanism of action of these peptides may be lytic or apoptosis-inducing. There is a need for further research to examine the structure of anti-cancer peptides, their function on cells, and their potential benefit to activate a cancer-specific immune response. A better understanding of the biochemistry of these novel anti-cancer peptides will help elucidate their potential mechanism of action.

After an introduction given by the chairs, Prof. Dr. Hans J. Vogel presented his research on ‘’Selective Anticancer Activities of Trp- and Arg-rich Antimicrobial Peptides’’. Prof. Dr. Valerie Booth followed with a presentation on ‘’Histidine-Rich HDPs and HDP-Induced Membrane Disruption of Intact Cells as Studied by NMR’’. Finally, Dr. Evan Haney spoke about ‘’Designing Synthetic Host Defense Peptides with Improved Selectivity for Cancer Cells’’. All presentations were followed by a Q&A session moderated by the chairs.

The webinar was offered via Zoom, and registration was required for attendance. The full recording can be found below.

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Relevant Special Issues

Special Issues in Biomolecules

Understanding the Potential of Host Defense Peptides in Treating Cancer
Guest Editors: Dr. Melanie R. Power Coombs and Prof. Dr. David W. Hoskin
Accepting submissions until 31 October 2020

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