Peptide Therapeutics and the Pharmaceutical Industry: Barriers Encountered Translating from the Laboratory to Patients

John Rafferty, Hema Nagaraj, Alice P. McCloskey, Rawan Huwaitat, Simon Porter, Alyaa Albadr, Garry Laverty

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

62 Citations (Scopus)


Peptides are receiving increasing interest as clinical therapeutics. These highly tunable molecules can be tailored to biocompatibility and biodegradability with simultaneously selective and potent therapeutic effects. Despite challenges regarding up-scaling and licensing of peptide products, their vast clinical potential is reflected in the 60 plus peptide-based therapeutics already on the market, and the further 500 derivatives currently in developmental stages. Peptides are proving effective for a multitude of disease states including: type 2 diabetes (controlled using the licensed glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor liraglutide); irritable bowel syndrome managed with linaclotide (currently at approval stages); acromegaly (treated with octapeptide somostatin analogues lanreotide and octreotide); selective or broad spectrum microbicidal agents such as the Gram-positive selective PTP-7 and antifungal heliomicin; anticancer agents including goserelin used as either adjuvant or for prostate and breast cancer,and the first marketed peptide derived vaccine against prostate cancer, sipuleucel-T. Research is also focusing on improving the biostability of peptides. This is achieved through a number of mechanisms ranging from replacement of naturally occurring L-amino acid enantiomers with D-amino acid forms, lipidation, peptidomimetics, N-methylation, cyclization and exploitation of carrier systems. The development of self-assembling peptides are paving the way for sustained release peptide formulations and already two such licensed examples exist, lanreotide and octreotide. The versatility and tunability of peptide-based products is resulting in increased translation of peptide therapies, however significant challenges remain with regard to their wider implementation. This review highlights some of the notable peptide therapeutics discovered to date and the difficulties encountered by the pharmaceutica lindustry in translating these molecules to the clinical setting for patient benefit, providing some possible solutions to the most challenging barriers. 
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4231-4259
Number of pages24
JournalCurrent Medical Chemistry
Issue number37
Early online date19 Sept 2016
Publication statusPublished - 31 Dec 2016


Dive into the research topics of 'Peptide Therapeutics and the Pharmaceutical Industry: Barriers Encountered Translating from the Laboratory to Patients'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this