The field of medicine is one of the most rapidly evolving areas in modern Western society. Pharmaceutics has emerged not only as a hugely profitable industry within itself but also as a flag bearer for medical advancement. According to Ryan Smith of Lexington KY, a trend in pharmaceutical development involves peptides, short amino acid chains produced naturally. Active peptides in nature exist in just about every living species, and they perform many different roles, helping in vital processes such as growth, immunity, and stress response regulation. They degrade quickly and thus have not been considered good candidates for drug studies.
However, as drug development continues, biochemists such as Ryan Smith of Lexington KY describe how peptides are being synthesized into more stable forms, thanks to advancements in chemistry as well as the fields of genetics, biology, computer science, and mathematics, part of a cutting-edge field known as bioinformatics. Modern biotechnologies have unlocked methods for producing different forms of peptides. With advancements lessening the quality of peptides to quickly degrade, scientists are now able to formulate peptide drugs that are safe and effective.
There are many potential applications for synthesized peptides, from anti-aging treatments to therapies for heart disease, stroke, cancer, and even acne. Facial creams containing peptides are touted as wrinkle reducers. Antimicrobial treatments for specialized peptides are a boon for healing skin problems ranging from injuries to acne, and scientists are continually exploring how peptides can help patients with life-threatening conditions.
The research continues, and scientists are learning more daily about the behavior of synthesized amino acid chains. As more is learned in this field, the use of lab-created peptides with longer lives will no doubt grow. Ryan Smith says that the future for patients in Lexington KY and everywhere is growing brighter as the arena of peptide use expands.
We were lucky enough to ask Ryan Smith from Lexington, KY even more questions which are below:
- What are the benefits and disadvantages of peptides?
Peptides are not really well understood by the general public. For most, people consider peptides to be food ingredients like collagen peptides. Another large contingent tends to associate peptides with skincare. These are definitely popular areas for peptides, but peptides are so much more.
Peptides are made in the body naturally as cell signalers. While they might be good for nutritional content, they. Are even better as pharmaceutical drugs. This is our area of expertise. Peptides represent a unique class of pharmaceutical compounds, molecularly poised between small molecules and proteins, yet biochemically and therapeutically distinct from both. As a result, they have many beneficial features which make them ideal drug candidates. Peptides are recognized for being highly selective and efficacious and, at the same time, relatively safe and well tolerated. The downside is that many of these products have to be injected and have to be injected frequently as they have short half-lives. These Problems are being solved through better chemistry and as a result, peptide therapeutics have turned into a leading industry with nearly 20 new peptide-based clinical trials annually. In fact, there are currently more than 400 peptide drugs that are under global clinical developments with over 60 already approved for clinical use in the United States, Europe and Japan.
- Which foods are considered the best sources of peptides?
Most peptides come from animal origin so animal products such as milk, or meat products usually have peptides which can be broken down for nutritional content. Some milk proteins also have anxiolytic type of effects.
- Based off scientific research, what are peptides commonly used for?
Peptides are used in. every area of scientific research and medicine. Currently the largest areas of peptide development and interest revolve around the things that cause the most morbidity and death. Currently, that involves research for metabolic diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular diseases like atherosclerosis, heart attack, and stroke. Additionally, as Cancer becomes the largest cause of death in the industrial world, there are many new developments in the space of oncology.
- Can using peptides help with severe acne?
Unfortunately, there is not much at the moment to help with acne, in the world of peptides. That is rapidly changing through the advent of anti-microbial peptides. Acne is characterized by whiteheads, blackheads, pimples, and greasy skin. In addition to possible physical consequences such as scarring, the mental effects of acne push many to try a variety of treatments. Conventional treatment options to improve the appearance of acne include lifestyle changes, and medications
Excessive growth of bacteria is often part of acne. It is believed that the bacteria normally present on the skin and that Propionibacterium acnes is usually the bacteria involved. Among many treatments for acne, it is believed that antimicrobial peptides, or peptides which kill bacteria, could reduce the number of bacteria which lead to acne!
- Can peptides help with individuals who suffer from vitiligo?
Absolutely! Many people are familiar with Melanotan. 2. Because it has an. Unfortunate reputation as the barbie drug as it can cause a skin tan. However, Melanotan 1 or afamelanotide is actually an FDA approved medication which can help treat vitiligo. The commercial product of afamelanotide is a 7-10 release of 16mg in a pellet form inserted into subcutaneous fat tissue. This, in combination with UVB therapy, has been a tool to help treat vitiligo.
- Can peptides be used to cure or prevent skin cancer? (i.e. melanoma, carcinoma)
There are many drugs which can help treat skin cancer. One of my favorites products is a product called Thymosin Alpha-1 or Zadazin. Thymosin Alpha-1 is a peptide which is naturally produced in your body. It is produced in the thymus which is an organ in the body responsible for maintenance and function of the immune system.
Through inducing higher levels of this Thymosin Alpha-1 through exogenous administration, we can enhance the adaptive immune response which is critical for fighting viral, bacterial, and fungal infections and cancers, as well as stimulation of humoral immunity for vaccine effectiveness.
This includes helping the immune system fight abnormal cells like cancer cells. This is why Thymosin Alpha-1 is FDA approved for treating malignant melanoma!
- What is the difference between peptides and protein?
The difference between peptides and proteins is largely semantic. Peptides are usually defined as amino acid chains which have less than 50 amino acids. As amino acids are put together into long chains in the body, they start to develop characteristics beyond the sequence themselves. They start to develop structures and patterns as they interact with each other in the space they are created.
Scientist usually define this as secondary structures (such as beta sheets and alpha helixs), tertiary structures (this is when the chain of amino acids begins to fold on itself), and quarternary structure (where multiple domains and subunits begin to play together). These other types of interactions and structures begin to make up the biggest differences between proteins and peptides.
- What is the most exciting area of peptide for disease and aging?
I think one of the most understated areas of research in medicine at the moment revolves around senescence. Senescence is a process many cells utilize when they sense damage such as UV radiation, chemical stress, or even metabolic stress like diabetes. When a cell is senescent, it stops growing in order to make sure it doesn’t replicate a bad change which could lead to cancer.
As we all go through life, these senescent cells build up over time. This build up can cause many unfortunate effects as we get older. These cells are alive, but they cause inflammation. This inflammation causes disease and also, many of the symptoms of aging. This is also called inflammaging.
If you remove these cells you can help stop this process and, in some cases, slow aging and some types of disease like kidney dysfunction, osteoarthritis, and diabetes. There are peptides like FOX04-DRI which might be able to help with this.
- How can people learn more about this or look into peptides for their health?
Thankfully, many physicians are now becoming extremely educated on this and using their knowledge to educate patients. I would recommend googling some of these processes and peptides to learn more about applicable and cutting-edge treatments. There are also great organizations like the international peptide society which can help. Connect you to knowledgeable doctors who can help you!
As the field of peptide research and synthesis grows, Ryan Smith of Lexington KY and other biochemists are learning about the possibilities of peptides. Lab creation overcomes some of the most problematic qualities of these naturally produced amino acids, including instability, low permeability, and short lifespan. These developments make the creation of effectual, reliable drugs possible. Specific conditions can be targeted for treatment, and this new generation of peptides can even focus on precise areas, as in the case of skin cancers.
Research being done in labs can help patients with a number of conditions. As Ryan Smith of Lexington KY points out, peptides are naturally occurring, so researchers can study the makeup of peptides in many different species as well as the role they play in survival. Being able to study peptides in a purely natural state helps scientists in their quest to develop a wide array of synthetic amino acid chains that can help humans in a myriad of ways.
Peptide synthesis is no longer a niche project with limited applications. In addition, as today’s consumers grow increasingly concerned about the side effects and environmental impacts of drugs, the safety of peptide compounds satisfactorily answers both of these problems. Ryan Smith of Lexington KY, along with many other biochemists, hails the advent of synthetic peptide drugs, which they say can improve the lives of many.