Peptides are a class of small molecule drugs that are used in the treatment of metabolic and infectious diseases. They are a useful starting point for the development of new therapeutics. Their pharmacological profile, high target affinity, and good membrane penetration ability make them a promising drug class for clinical application.
A large number of peptides are in active clinical development, with more than 80 in the pipeline. Currently, over 60 peptide drugs have been approved in the US and Europe.
Compared with other drug classes, peptides have a relatively short plasma half-life, and a lower toxicity profile. Additionally, they have low production costs, good tolerability, and excellent efficacy profiles. This makes peptides attractive for a wide variety of indications.
Many peptides are designed to bind to specific cell surface receptors and trigger intracellular effects. In this way, they can act as growth factors, neurotransmitters, anti-infective agents, or hormones. Because they are often ion channel ligands, peptides are also used as a means of controlling the release of neurotransmitters.
While peptides are a promising drug class, they face a number of challenges. One of the major challenges is finding an alternative delivery route that allows the drug to be taken orally.
Fortunately, there are a number of technologies being developed to facilitate oral peptide delivery. These include peptide conjugates and multifunctional peptides. The combination of multiple peptide functional sites can increase the bioavailability of the peptide and improve its efficacy.