Cationic Host Defence Peptides: Potential as Antiviral Therapeutics

Research output: Contribution to journalLiterature reviewpeer-review


There is a pressing need to develop new antiviral treatments; of the 60 drugs currently available, half are aimed at HIV-1 and the remainder target only a further six viruses. This demand has led to the emergence of possible peptide therapies, with 15 currently in clinical trials. Advancements in understanding the antiviral potential of naturally occurring host defence peptides highlights the potential of a whole new class of molecules to be considered as antiviral therapeutics. Cationic host defence peptides, such as defensins and cathelicidins, are important components of innate immunity with antimicrobial and immunomodulatory capabilities. In recent years they have also been shown to be natural, broad-spectrum antivirals against both enveloped and non-enveloped viruses, including HIV-1, influenza virus, respiratory syncytial virus and herpes simplex virus. Here we review the antiviral properties of several families of these host peptides and their potential to inform the design of novel therapeutics.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)479-493
Number of pages15
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2013

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