Synthetic peptides are a type of protein used in research and development. They are a convenient tool for studying interactions that are not simple enough to be made with recombinant proteins, and they can be produced rapidly and inexpensively.
Peptides are composed of amino acids linked to each other via amide bonds (peptide bond). They are commonly synthesized in solution-phase methods, but can also be produced by solid-phase synthesis. The peptide is incorporated into a resin, a polymer that is insoluble in water and soluble in a variety of solvents.
During peptide synthesis, each amino acid of the sequence is sequentially bound to the resin, which contains a group of active groups (usually called reagents) that can be exposed to the amide bonds. After a certain amount of time, the resin is washed away, and the peptide is separated from it.
Synthetic peptides can be useful in many ways, including in the development of drugs, for determining peptide epitopes, as immunogenic antigens for vaccines, and as protein structure predictors. For example, researchers have developed peptides that inhibit amyloid-beta production in Alzheimer’s disease. They have also used peptides to determine secondary and tertiary structures of proteins and to create custom antibodies.