What are peptides?
Peptides are naturally occurring, small biological molecules made of short chains of amino acids linked by a peptide bond. They typically contain 2-50 amino acids, therefore easily absorbed by the body when compared to proteins which are larger in size. Peptides contain amino acid sequences which con control and coordinate all cellular functions and intracellular communication.
Properties of peptides
Naturally produced in the body: Peptides are short chains of amino acids linked by a peptide bond. Numerous natural peptides have served as starting points for development of peptide therapeutics. For example, the gut microbiome, which is rich in diverse bacteria and other microorganisms, has a potential to give rise to new peptides from protein fragments and degradation products.
• Structural modifications: Peptides can be re-engineered and re-designed using bioinformatics; a process by which the capability of the molecule can be determined. Some of these include cell penetrating peptides, cyclic peptides and multifunctional peptides which exhibit more than one pharmacological activity with plasma half-life extension.
• Target specific: Peptide therapeutics are highly target-specific, as they only target the disease area. They can also be used synergistically with the other pharmaceutical agents to direct them to their target areas, modify their biological action and transport them across cellular membranes.
• Safe: The degradation products of peptides, following their desired action on the target molecule, only involve amino acids. Hence, they have low toxicity and are considered safe.