Last Updated on 9 months by Isreal Olabanji DST RN
You may have heard peptides mentioned. They play an important role in medical research. There are many benefits that peptides can potentially provide. This is why scientists spend time studying them. The aim of this article is to explain what peptides are, how they are made and why they are so important to medical research. There are many great peptide blogs out there which can offer a lot of insight.
What are peptides?
In simple terms, peptides are smaller versions of proteins. Like proteins, they are made from strings of amino acids. However, proteins contain far more amino acids than peptides.
In peptides, there are usually between 2 and 50 amino acids present. Proteins can be made from as many as 500 amino acids. Peptides may only be small but they have potentially powerful attributes. Their small size means that they are easier to absorb than the larger proteins. It’s not just their size that helps with this.
The fact that peptides are smaller than proteins means that they remain as a loose two-dimensional string within the cells of the body. They do not fold, and become more complex, like proteins.
Together, their size and lack of complexity mean that peptides can easily penetrate parts of the body, such as the skin and intestines. This means that they can quickly enter the bloodstream.
Scientists realize that this makes peptides useful in several ways. For instance, they can help to kill microbes, reduce inflammation and treat diseases.
How are peptides made?
Peptides occur naturally within the human body. They can also be produced in a laboratory to enable you to buy peptides.
Inside the body, the life of some peptides begins in the nucleus of a cell where a strand of DNA is transcribed into a strand of messenger RNA. The RNA and ribosomes outside of the nucleus are translated into an amino acid.
Many more peptides come from the food that we eat. The proteins in the food are broken down into manageable pieces. These pieces are peptides. Many of these peptides do not function but others affect the cells in the body. It’s these peptides that have attracted the interest of scientists.
In the laboratory, peptides are made using the process of chemical synthesis or DNA technology. These peptides are tested for their positive impacts and potential side effects of use.
Why are peptides important to medical research?
There is no doubt that peptides have become increasingly important to medical research in recent years. The number of peptides that entered clinical trials rose by 1,300% between the 1970s and the 2000s.
As scientists have researched the potential of small but powerful peptides, they have begun to have a better understanding of how to isolate them and produce them. This has made it easier to study.
Being a form of protein means that peptides are involved in the functioning of the human body on a daily basis. This means that studying them, and developing a full understanding of the way they work, is crucial to the furthering of medical research.
It’s hoped that because peptides are a natural byproduct of human digestion, they could provide a safe way of engineering drugs and treatments to combat illness and disease. The theory behind this is that anything which occurs naturally in the way that peptides do is less likely to cause adverse reactions and side effects.
The future of peptide research
Despite the benefits of peptides that have already been identified, there is us still a long way to go with peptide research.
Researchers are developing sophisticated methods to study peptides. The techniques that they are using include mass spectrometry (MS). These techniques are helping to obtain information about amino acid sequences, potential impurities and peptide properties. This information is vital to the progression of peptide research and the effective use of peptides going forward.
Researchers are also degrading proteins in different ways, in order to develop their understanding of peptides. They are separating the fragments that result from the degradation in various ways and screening them. This helps to determine the biological function of peptides. In addition, scientists are tracking peptides so that they can get a better understanding of how they act when they are inside the human body.
This research into peptides has different aims behind it including:
- To gain a better understanding of how proteins work. Scientists use peptides to help make an antibody that recognizes a peptide sequence within a protein. Doing this is one of the easiest ways to study a protein.
- To check if theories are correct. Scientists can tag peptides to see how they react in certain situations.
This research is essential if the potential benefits of peptides are going to be optimized, including potential cancer treatment options.
Peptides occur naturally within the human body. They are smaller and less complex versions of proteins. Their size and simple structure make it easier for them to be absorbed and enter the bloodstream.
This means that they have important potential benefits for human health. For this reason, peptides play an essential role in current medical research. It’s thought that the fact that peptides exist naturally means that they can be put to use medically with fewer resulting side effects. In order to carry out ongoing research, peptides are manufactured within the laboratory.
Although it has become far more popular in recent years, peptide research is still in its early days. There is far more that scientists can learn about the benefits of peptides. In order to do this, researchers are developing new techniques that can be used to study peptides in the laboratory environment. The research that is being carried out will help to give scientists a better understanding of proteins. It will also allow them to test their theories regarding the properties and potential benefits of peptides. This will help researchers to make full use of the power of peptides in developing potential treatments for illnesses including cancer.
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