Thymosin alpha 1 is a peptide, which is a fragment or small part of a protein. This 28 amino acid molecule naturally occurs in the human body, specifically in the thymus gland. It has a wide range of biological activities.
It is pleiotropic, meaning that it has multiple effects on the immune system, endocrine and central nervous systems. Thymosin Alpha 1 boosts the immune system in times of need, and it can also regulate immune responses.
In clinical studies, it has been shown to enhance innate immune response, boost vaccine responses and inhibit tumor growth. It is also thought to have antioxidant properties by increasing the activity of antioxidant enzymes like catalase, superoxide dismutase and glutathione peroxidase.
The FDA has approved thymosin alpha 1 as an orphan drug under the name Zadaxin (thyalfasin) for treatment of certain diseases including DiGeorge syndrome with immune system defects, non-small cell lung cancer, hepatocellular carcinoma and chronic active hepatitis B & C. It has also been used in a limited number of trials to curb morbidity and mortality in sepsis patients.
The peptide is produced through solid phase synthesis, which is a chemical method that uses organic reagents to assemble peptide chains. However, the complex sequence of Ta1 makes it very difficult to synthesize, with the resulting yields being low and purity inconsistent. Due to this, scientists are using genetic engineering expression techniques to produce purified recombinant thymosin alpha 1. Recombinant thymosin alpha 1 is currently produced through prokaryotic organisms such as Escherichia coli, or by using eukaryotic organisms like yeast, plants or Pichia Pastoris.