A few decades ago, medical professionals did not understand why the medicines prescribed by them led to adverse side effects in a few of their patients. Example of this is penicillin resistance. As new technologies emerged, and were integrated into medical field, researchers began to understand how the prescribed drugs behave in the body. More information about proteins and protein structures led to better understanding about physiology and consequent realization that smaller proteins, i.e., peptides have the potential of doing same thing that some of the other drugs. Over the last decade these smaller amino acid chains have been studied, manipulated, and prescribed. The positive outcomes have encouraged researchers to focus more on peptides and polypeptides for treating ailments afflicting human beings. Peptides may be the panacea for drug addiction and HIV infections.
For starters, these are organic compounds and the sequence of amino acids in them usually exists in the body on another protein. Therefore, neurotransmitters, hormones, anti-infective compounds etc., that the body produces are mostly peptides. The body has a system of breaking down and building such peptides as and when needed. Effectively, it is half the job done. In conventional medicines, it is not enough to send the drug to the desired location for addressing the problem. The drug or whatever is remaining of it also needs to leave the body, without causing any other problem, and that often is the reason for rejecting a drug candidate.
The second reason for looking at peptides for treating human ailments is that it is easy to synthesize and design these tiny molecular chains. Relevant technologies are already available. In pharmacology, it becomes necessary to reduce the size of the molecule so that the drug enters the cells easily. Though the amino acid chains in peptides are often long, technologies are already available to bring down the size of peptides so that they enter the cells more easily.
Peptides bind on to the receptors on cells like conventional drugs. Such receptors are often large, and have many other sites for other chemicals to get attached. In the case of peptides, the tertiary structure of these small proteins prevents other compounds or even toxins from attaching on to the other sites on the receptor because of the volume of the peptide. Effectively, peptides can prevent further infections and help in recovering faster from the health problem.
Manufacturing costs of peptides are also considerably lower when compared to manufacturing costs of conventional drugs. This is because reactions with peptides are already known but with other drug compounds researchers only have a theoretical assumption, which needs to be confirmed and quantified. Effectively, research costs are lower. Time taken to manufacture these compounds is also less because peptides are, after all, fragments of some proteins.
Last but not the least is the fact that since the body takes charge of monitoring the quantity of specific peptides in the body at any location, chances of adverse side effects come down. In conventional drugs, dosage management can be a problem because dosage needed for one person differs from dosage needed for another person.
What needs to be done?
So far, researchers have investigated only a few of the peptides, and how they react within the body. Over 7000 peptides that occur naturally have been discovered are under investigations for therapeutic usage. There are three problems associated with peptides
a. Such natural peptides are not necessarily perfect in design or composition for causing the desired physiological reaction or preventing any physiological reaction. Effectively, they do need to be manipulated to get the desired composition and size.
b. Because peptides occur in the body, and the body already has mechanism for breaking them down, conventional ways of administering them such as oral administration does not work for all peptides.
c. Peptides have NH3+ bonding with negatively charged oxygen on the adjacent acid molecule. This bonding is not as strong bonding in some inorganic compounds. Therefore, the bonds tend to break down and NH3 of the acid may move over to bond with negatively charged oxygen of another amino acid in the vicinity, destroying the therapeutic composition of the manufactured peptide or resulting in a compound that may actually be harmful.
d. Peptides have a tendency to huddle together, unlike the conventional medications, which break down into molecules and disperse.
Science need to find solutions to the problems in peptides based therapeutics. Researchers are already trying to integrate some of the effective and less harmful conventional drug molecules within the peptide in a manner similar to encapsulating such drugs. But more research on how to personalize medicines and offer them almost instantaneously needs to be done. Research also needs to be done on immunogenicity threats from peptides, natural or synthesized. Those interested in conducting medical invitro research can buy peptides from online vendors such as American Science Labs – Premium Peptides. It is very important to conduct research prior to making any purchases.