The future holds an extensive place for peptides as there is an immense scope for
development of new peptides with improved properties to address the greatest
of medical challenges.
What are peptides? Peptides are naturally occurring, small biological molecules made of short chains of amino acids linked by a peptide bond. Peptides typically contain 2-50 amino acids, therefore are easily absorbed by the body when compared to proteins which are larger in size.
Decades of research & development of peptides has resulted in discovery of peptides which have the ability to penetrate the cell with advanced actions, all of which have shown excellent results. The diverse functional capability of peptides is determined by the amino acid sequences and shape of the peptides.
Peptide drugs have been in use for almost a century now, though initially they were only used to replicate the action of natural hormones for metabolic diseases, for example, the first of this kind that was approved for clinical usage was insulin for management of diabetes. Today, several modifications of peptides are achievable for challenging and complex tasks within the organism.
Over the past decade there has been a great increase in progression and appreciation of peptide drug discovery by the pharmaceutical industry as enhanced biological therapeutics or even alternatives for small molecules. ISSAR is proud to have indigenously developed and commercialized India’s first ever peptide molecule Melgain for Vitiligo, followed by Xylentra for burn wounds, acquired 7 patents for their peptide molecules and several drugs in the developmental pipeline.
Peptides play a vital role in the overall functionality of an organism as they contain amino acid sequences which control and coordinate all cellular functions and intracellular communication.
The development of peptides drugs was initiated to achieve a combination of small molecules and proteins as each of these had their own set of advantages and limitations. The future holds an extensive place for peptides in addressing the greatest of medical challenges due to the following properties:
• Naturally produced in the body: Peptides are naturally produced in all living organisms performing essential biological functions. 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.