Gifts from the Gila monster

June 1, 2011, American Chemical Society

Who would have thought that Gila monster saliva would be the inspiration for a blockbuster new drug for Type 2 diabetes? Or that medicines for chronic pain, heart attacks, high blood pressure and stroke would emerge from venom of the Magician's cone snail, the saw-scaled viper, the Brazilian lancehead snake and the Southeastern pygmy rattlesnake? These are just some of the sources contributing to the emergence of potential new drugs based on "peptides" that is the topic of the cover story in the current edition of Chemical & Engineering News (C&EN), ACS' weekly newsmagazine. Peptides are short sequences of amino acids that are the building blocks of proteins.

C&EN Senior Correspondent Ann Thayer explains that peptides play central roles in many key body processes involved in health and disease. As drugs, they have several advantages over traditional medications, including higher potency and lower toxicity. However, efforts to enlist peptides more extensively in medical treatment have stumbled due to peptides' short duration of action, tendency to be digested by enzymes in the stomach and other problems.

Thayer describes advances in overcoming those problems with 60 peptide drugs sold worldwide having sales of $13 billion in 2010 and scores of others in the pipeline. Some of the most successful of those already in use are based on peptides found naturally in animals like the Gila monster. A companion article describes how manufacturers are stepping up production, collaborating with peptide discovery companies. Peptide drugs are now longer and more complex than those developed earlier, but improvements have made production faster and more cost-effective.

Explore further: New NIST reference material for peptide analysis

More information: “Improving Peptides”: pubs.acs.org/cen/coverstory/89/8922cover.html

Related Stories

New NIST reference material for peptide analysis

May 25, 2007

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has issued its first-ever reference material designed to improve the performance and reliability of experiments to measure the masses and concentrations of peptides ...

Recommended for you

Nanodiamonds as photocatalysts

October 19, 2018

Climate change is in full swing and will continue unabated as long as CO2 emissions continue. One possible solution is to return CO2 to the energy cycle: CO2 could be processed with water into methanol, a fuel that can be ...

Producing defectless metal crystals of unprecedented size

October 19, 2018

A research group at the Center for Multidimensional Carbon Materials, within the Institute for Basic Science (IBS), has published an article in Science describing a new method to convert inexpensive polycrystalline metal ...

Shining light on the separation of rare earth metals

October 18, 2018

Inside smartphones and computer displays are metals known as the rare earths. Mining and purifying these metals involves waste- and energy-intense processes. Better processes are needed. Previous work has shown that specific ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.