Novel amphibian skin peptide-analogues for the treatment of type-2 diabetes

Apply and key information  


As part of ongoing programme into natural antidiabetic drug discovery; we isolated several novel insulin-releasing antihyperglycaemic agents from amphibian skin secretion for the treatment of type 2 diabetes. We have developed novel analogues of previously described insulinotropic host defence peptides from Xenopus amieti, Hymenochirus boettger, Lithobates chiricahuensis, Sphaenorhynchus lacteus etc. and early results indicated structural modifications of these peptides resulted in a significant augmentation of the insulinotropic effects; producing enhanced in vitro insulinotropic effects as well as improved glucose tolerance and insulin release in obese insulin resistant mice.

The overall aim of this research is to examine the long-term metabolic effects and elucidate molecular mechanism of actions of novel peptide analogues of some recently discovered host defence peptides with potent insulin-releasing effects for potential development as novel type 2 diabetes drugs.

The proposed research will investigate the interaction of the Novel peptides from amphibian skin secretion with beta-cell membrane proteins as well as in vivo changes in the expression of key genes and proteins involved in glucose signalling via the KATP-dependent and the cAMP-dependent secondary messenger pathways resulting from the administration of the peptides to diabetic animals. This project will involve techniques such as HPLC, MALDI-TOF, tissue culture, small animal handling and experimentation, PCR, immunohistochemistry, flurometric assay, radioimmunoassay, etc. PCR and Western blotting will be utilised to explore both gene and protein expression of key elements involved in  pathways of insulin secretion (such as Ins1, Gck, Kcnj11, Abcc8, Cacna1c), beta cell proliferation (such as Pdx-1) and insulin action (such as Irs1, Ptb1, Pi3kca, Pdk1, Akt1, Insr, Slc2a4).The proposed research will provide training in a wide range of techniques.

Applicants should note that Bench fees of £6,000.00- £8,000.00 per annum are required.

Essential criteria

Applicants should hold, or expect to obtain, a First or Upper Second Class Honours Degree in a subject relevant to the proposed area of study.

We may also consider applications from those who hold equivalent qualifications, for example, a Lower Second Class Honours Degree plus a Master’s Degree with Distinction.

In exceptional circumstances, the University may consider a portfolio of evidence from applicants who have appropriate professional experience which is equivalent to the learning outcomes of an Honours degree in lieu of academic qualifications.

  • Sound understanding of subject area as evidenced by a comprehensive research proposal
  • A comprehensive and articulate personal statement

Desirable Criteria

If the University receives a large number of applicants for the project, the following desirable criteria may be applied to shortlist applicants for interview.

  • First Class Honours (1st) Degree
  • Completion of Masters at a level equivalent to commendation or distinction at Ulster
  • Practice-based research experience and/or dissemination
  • Experience using research methods or other approaches relevant to the subject domain
  • Work experience relevant to the proposed project
  • Publications record appropriate to career stage
  • Experience of presentation of research findings

Equal Opportunities

The University is an equal opportunities employer and welcomes applicants from all sections of the community, particularly from those with disabilities.

Appointment will be made on merit.

Funding and eligibility

Recommended reading

  1. J. Michael Conlon, Lauren Hunter, Samir Attoub, Bruno Casciaro, Milena Mechkarska, Yasser H. A. Abdel-Wahab (2023). Antimicrobial, cytotoxic, and insulin-releasing activities of the amphibian host-defense peptide ocellatin-3N and its L-lysinesubstituted analogs. Journal of Peptide Science: 29:e3463.
  2. Musale V, Moffett RC, Owolabi B,Conlon JM, Flatt PR, Abdel-Wahab YHA (2021). Mechanisms of action of the antidiabetic peptide [S4K]CPF-AM1 in db/db mice. Journal of Molecular Endocrinology 6 (2): 115-128.
  3. Musale V, Guilhaudis L, Abdel-Wahab YHA, Flatt PR, Conlon JM (2019). Insulinotropic activity of the host-defense peptide frenatin 2D: Conformational, structure-function and mechanistic studies. Biochimie 156:12-21.
  4. Vishal Musale, Maria Luisa Mangoni, Yasser H. A. Abdel-Wahab, Peter R. Flatt, J. Michael Conlon (2018). Insulinotropic, glucose-lowering, and beta-cell anti-apoptotic actions of peptides related to esculentin-1a (1-21).NH2. Amino Acids, 50(6), 723-734.
  5. Srividya Vasu, Mary K. McGahon, R. Charlotte Moffett, Tim M. Curtis, J. Michael Conlon, Yasser H. A. Abdel-Wahab and Peter R. Flatt (2017). Esculentin-2CHa(1-30) & analogues – Stability & mechanisms of insulinotropic action. Journal of Endocrinology, 232, 423–435.

The Doctoral College at Ulster University

Key dates

Submission deadline
Wednesday 1 January 2025

Interview Date

Preferred student start date


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Contact supervisor

Dr Yasser Abdel-Wahab

Other supervisors