UK Peptides & Proteins Review

UK peptides are highly active compounds that have been formulated to act as drugs with the potential to target specific disease targets. Using peptides to target a disease target is a relatively new approach in medicine, and there is still a lot of work to be done to fully understand the pharmacological properties of these compounds. This issue of Peptides & Proteins features four reviews that highlight some of the latest developments in this area.

The first review, by my own group at the University of Glasgow, describes the development of stapled peptide analogues of the m-conotoxin KIIIA. Staple chemistry was used to manipulate the structure of the peptide and to construct analogues that are biologically active against the human voltage-gated sodium channels hNaV1.4 and hNaV1.6. The structural basis for the activity of these peptide analogues is discussed, and lessons learned about stapled peptide design are highlighted.

A second review, by Professor John Howl from the University of Wolverhampton, discusses the emerging area of bioportides, a bi-functional sub-class of cell penetrating peptides that also act as regulators of protein-protein interactions. The use of chemically modified anchors to facilitate peptide binding to a target protein is described, and the article concludes with an in-depth discussion of approaches to enhance bioportide activity by targeting a wider range of protein-protein interactions.

Finally, the last review, by Dr Gary Laverty from Queen’s University Belfast, discusses the synthesis of a library of linear lipopeptides inspired by the polymyxins and their antimicrobial activity. The peptides were labelled with fluorescent tags and their ability to label fungal (GRAM positive) and bacterial (Gram negative) strains was assessed using confocal microscopy. The peptides displayed a good binding profile for the targeted strains, suggesting that they could be useful for cost-effective rapid diagnosis of infection.

Food-derived peptides with opioid activity can exert a number of different effects in the gut, depending on the receptors they activate; these include the m-receptors which affect appetite and pain sensation, the d-receptors which regulate emotional behaviour and the k-receptors which affect satiety signals and food intake. In addition, the peptides can stimulate secretory and absorptive functions in the gut.

Novel synthetic peptide hormones appear to be readily available for UK consumers over the licit e-commerce platforms Amazon, eBay and Alibaba. Retail suppliers can be categorised into three main types: larger human enhancement drug-specific sellers, general supplements who also stock SPH products and individual resellers. SPH products are often promoted as wellbeing supplements to evade restrictions on their sale. A deeper understanding of the underlying dynamics of this market is needed, but this commentary represents an initial snapshot of its intersection with licit and illicit markets. uk peptides

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