Media interviews on the existence of “Man Flu”

On December 12, Dr Peter Barlow gave media interviews to The Guardian and on BBC Radio Ulster in regarding the existence of “Man Flu”.  The interviews were in response to a tongue in cheek article published in the Christmas edition of the British Medical Journal suggesting that man flu was, in fact, real and that men should be afforded the opportunity to recover in male-friendly spaces with televisions and reclining chairs.

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New Paper Published in the Journal of Immunology

Work from the laboratory group of Dr Peter Barlow has been published today in the Journal of Immunology.  The new paper, entitled “Carbon Nanoparticles Inhibit the Antimicrobial Activities of the Human Cathelicidin LL-37 through Structural Alteration” was authored by Dr Fern Findlay, who undertook her PhD under Peter’s direction at Edinburgh Napier University.

The work describes the inhibitory effects of carbon nanoparticles on the antibacterial, antiviral and immunomodulatory capacity of the human cathelicidin LL-37. The work was conducted in collaboration with the US Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, and the Moredun Research Institute.  The findings have important implications for human health in the context of exposure to particulate air pollution.

The paper can be found here. Media coverage of the manuscript findings can be found below;


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New Paper Published on the Antiviral Activity of Cathelicidins Against Rhinovirus

A new paper has been published from work conducted by members of Peter’s group, Filipa Henderson Sousa, Dr Victor Casanova and Dr Fern Findlay, which assesses the antiviral activity of the cathelicidin family of host defence peptides towards Rhinovirus, the pathogen predominantly responsible for the common cold.

The paper, entitled “Cathelicidins display conserved direct antiviral activity towards rhinovirus” was published in the journal Peptides as an Open Access publication and can be found here.  The paper shows that the human cathelicidin, LL-37, as well as peptide from pig (Protegrin-1) and sheep (SMAP-29) have antiviral activity towards rhinovirus HRV1B.

The publication also attracted significant media coverage from BBC News, Sky News, the Daily Mail, The Independent, The Scotsman, The New York Post, and other major media outlets.  In addition, Peter conducted live interviews with Sky News and LBC Radio.


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Dr Peter Barlow appointed to Editorial Board of the Journal of Medical Microbiology

In July 2017, Dr Peter Barlow was appointed to the Editorial Board of the Journal of Medical Microbiology.  The journal, published by the Microbiology Society, covers the full breadth of Clinical Microbiology, and is co-edited by two new Editors in Chief, Professor Kalai Mathee from Florida International University and Dr Norman Fry from Public Health England.

Peter will be contributing to the journal with his expertise in Host Defence Peptides, antimicrobial resistance, therapeutics and inflammation.

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Dr Peter Barlow Gives Media Comment on Impact of Antibiotic Use in Livestock and Human Health

A new study using mathematical modelling suggests that minimising the use of antibiotics in animals used in the human food chain would have little effect on levels of antimicrobial resistance in human pathogens.  Dr Peter Barlow was asked to give a media statement on the article as Spokesperson for the British Society for Immunology, which was distributed by the Science Media Centre.

The statement reads;

“Emerging antimicrobial resistance is a significant threat for human and animal health around the world, and it is a problem that requires coordinated and decisive global action to minimize the spread of drug-resistant pathogens.  It has been proposed that one way in which we could combat the spread of antimicrobial resistance is by reducing the amount of antibiotics used in animals that are part of the human food chain.

“This well-constructed study uses a simple mathematical model to look at what would happen to human health in the event that animals used in food production were given fewer antibiotics.  Their model suggests that this action alone would have little effect on levels of antibiotic resistance in humans.

“This finding is consistent with prior reports from the World Health Organization, stating ‘Antimicrobial resistance is a complex problem that affects all of society and is driven by many interconnected factors. Single, isolated interventions have limited impact‘.1

“I agree with the authors’ conclusions that several measures are required to reduce the emerging risk of antimicrobial resistance, and that their model would support this.  These measures can include increased surveillance and research, increasing awareness of the issue, effective sanitation and hygiene to prevent infection, and optimising the use of antimicrobials in humans and animals.2  However, I would caution against using this model as confirmation that we should not be focused on reducing the use of antibiotics in livestock, as it is extremely difficult to measure the effect of one intervention on a complex global problem.  Drug-resistant infections are a substantial threat to human and animal health and I believe reducing antibiotic use in our food supply will still be an effective action as part of a global strategy to reduce our reliance on antimicrobial medicines.”

  1. World Health Organization factsheet on antimicrobial resistance, September 2016
  2. World Health Organization 2015 Global Action Plan on Antimicrobial Resistance.
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Peter Elected Fellow of the Royal Society of Biology

In January 2017, Peter was  elected Fellow of the Royal Society of Biology, following a recent meeting of the Society.  The RSB is a learned society that is involved in influencing science policy, together with advancing education and professional development.  It has over 100 member organisations, including the British Society for Immunology, of which Peter is also a member.

The website for the RSB can be found here.

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Dr Peter Barlow Gives Media Comment on Zika Virus Effects on Testes in Mice

A new study, published today in the journal Nature, has shown that a mouse adapted strain of Zika virus can have adverse effects on the testes in a mouse model, namely reduced testes size and weight, and also causing damage to the parts of the testes that are responsible for the production of semen.  As a Spokesperson for the British Society for Immunology, Peter was invited to issue a media comment on the study by the Science Media Centre.  The statement issued can be read below in full;

Dr Peter Barlow, British Society for Immunology spokesperson and Reader in Immunology & Infection at Edinburgh Napier University, said:

““In humans, Zika virus has been shown to be present in the semen of males for many months after symptoms appear, but the direct effects of the virus on the male reproductive tract are largely unknown. This study used mice to look at how Zika virus could infect, and survive, in the testes over time. This is particularly important as Zika virus can be sexually transmitted between humans, although such transmission is currently thought to be rare.

“The study showed that one strain of Zika virus, which could efficiently infect mice, caused a decrease in the size and weight of the testes in mice, and caused damage to parts of the testes that produce semen. Zika also altered the levels of hormones that influence the production of sperm. All of these effects translated to much lower rates of pregnancy when the male mice that had been infected with Zika were mated with females. However, it is worth noting that when another strain of Zika virus was compared, one that did not replicate well in mice, the damage to the testes was not as serious. It is not currently known if all strains of Zika virus would have the same effects.

“While it is currently unclear if Zika virus infection would cause reduced testes size and fertility in man, this study does raise concerns that Zika virus could potentially have direct effects on male fertility. Therefore, more work is needed to determine if these observations in mice would translate to men.

Peter’s comments were published in The Daily Mail.

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Dr Peter Barlow Comments on Zika Vaccine Study in Rhesus Monkeys

A new study, published in Science, has demonstrated that three different vaccine approaches can offer complete protection against Zika virus infection in monkeys, representing an important step forward towards a human vaccine for Zika.  Peter was asked to offer comment on the study by the Science Media Centre (as a spokesperson for the British Society for Immunology).   Peter’s comments were published in The Telegraph.

The statement is below;

Dr Peter Barlow, British Society for Immunology spokesperson and Reader in Immunology & Infection at Edinburgh Napier University, said:

“There are a number of significant health concerns around Zika virus infection, most notably for pregnant women, and thus an effective and safe vaccine against this virus is urgently required.

“This study used three different vaccine approaches in rhesus monkeys in order to assess the effectiveness of the vaccines in terms of protecting them against Zika virus infection. The data showed that all three vaccine approaches offered complete protection against Zika virus infection in the rhesus monkeys, without any major side effects.

“This study represents a promising step forward in the rapid development of a safe and robust vaccine against Zika virus infection in humans. I would now expect clinical trials of a Zika vaccine in humans, using one or more of these approaches, to begin this year.”


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New Review Article Published “Inflammatory Bowel Disease Drugs: A Focus on Autophagy”

JCC Article

A new review article has been published today in the Journal of Crohn’s and Colitis, entitled “Inflammatory Bowel Disease Drugs: A Focus on Autophagy“.  The review, authored by Ms Kirsty Hooper, Dr Peter Barlow, Dr Craig Stevens and Dr Paul Henderson, highlights the known mechanisms of action of drugs commonly used to treat Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) and how these therapeutics could potentially affect autophagy pathway regulation.   This is particularly important as defective autophagy has been strongly linked to IBD pathogenesis.

The article is available now from the journal website and is indexed on PubMed.

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New Paper – Cationic Host Defence Peptide Expression By Ovine Trophoblasts In Response To Infection

Coyle et al 2016

Our new paper has been published by the Journal of Reproductive Immunology entitled ‘Ovine trophoblasts express cathelicidin host defence peptide in response to infection‘.  This is the first study to show that ovine trophoblasts express cathelicidins, but do not upregulate expression of CHDP in response to LPS. The study also shows that ovine trophoblasts differentially regulate expression of CHDP and lack a demonstrable vitamin D-mediated cathelicidin response.

The article is available now (PubMed Link)

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