Peptides are a naturally occurring molecule, found in virtually all living organisms. Essentially, they are the building blocks that make proteins and control a wide range of our bodies’ internal functions.
What’s more, is that scientists and medical researchers are beginning to use peptides in a variety of new and innovative ways to treat diseases and improve human health.
In fact, today, there are estimated to be roughly 500 peptide-based pharmaceuticals being tested on individuals in clinical trials. And there are already several peptide-based medications on the market that are generating revenues in the billions of dollars.
In the following article, we’ll be taking a deeper look at peptides and how they are being used in medical research today.
But first off, just in case you’re wondering, let’s explain just exactly what peptides really are.
What Are Peptides?
In scientific terms, peptides are short chains of amino acids, responsible for controlling many of a human being’s bodily functions.
Structurally, they are quite similar to proteins. However, they are much smaller than proteins, meaning that they can be readily absorbed by the body and can easily make their way into the bloodstream quickly.
Because of this, scientists are now beginning to look at peptides to treat a variety of human conditions and illnesses.
This is because, within the human body, peptides are capable of controlling a wide range of functions by acting as signaling molecules. Therefore, by creating and controlling certain types of peptides, scientists can, theoretically, treat diseases.
One of the best-known examples of a peptide is insulin. Insulin is made up of 51 amino acids and is capable of controlling the body’s sugar metabolism.
It was previously thought that it was impossible to create a peptide-based medicine that didn’t have to be injected.
But recently, a research team from the Technical University of Munich in Germany have discovered a way to design peptides to be administered in liquid or tablet form, making them an even better candidate for medical research and the treatment of disease.
The Benefits of Peptides in Medicine
Although there are literally hundreds of different types of peptides, researchers are most interested in the potential of bioactive peptides, which are believed to offer a variety of positive effects on the human body.
Each different type of bioactive peptide has its own biological properties and will have a different effect on the body depending on which amino acids make it up. In other words, different types of peptides can be used to address different types of medical issues.
Today, two of the most commonly used peptides are collagen peptides and creatine peptides.
Collagen peptides are thought to have a beneficial effect on the skin and help to reverse some of the signs of aging such as fine lines, wrinkles, and dark spots. Creatine peptides, on the other hand, are used to help build and strengthen muscle.
According to medical news today, bioactive peptides have a range of other benefits, such as:
- Reducing and maintaining healthy blood pressure.
- Being anti-microbial.
- Reducing swelling and inflammation.
- Preventing blood clots.
- Improving and maintaining better immune function.
- Being a powerful antioxidant.
Peptides And Today’s Medicine
Below, we’ll take a better look at a few of the areas where peptides are being used in medical research.
Collagen peptides are the building blocks of collagen, a natural protein found in your hair, skin, and fingernails.
According to research, taking a supplement that contains collagen peptides could help improve skin health and even work to reverse the signs of aging. In addition to this, collagen peptides are also known to stimulate the production of melanin within the skin. This naturally helps protect your skin from the sun’s harsh UVA and UVB rays.
There are also many over-the-counter anti-aging creams that contain peptides to help reduce wrinkles, increase blood flow, and improve the overall appearance of your skin according to this blog.
Elsewhere, studies suggest a link between moderate intake of collagen peptides and an increase of bone mass in growing rats. This link may prove to be a useful method of counteracting age-related bone loss in humans.
However, as mentioned, this link has only been proven in rats, and much more research is needed before human studies will take place.
Because of the fact that collagen is an important component of healthy human skin, it has been suggested that collagen peptides could help speed up the healing process.
Furthermore, other studies have shown that bioactive peptides also have the ability to act as antioxidants and reduce inflammation. Both of which, help contribute to faster healing times.
Elsewhere, researchers are studying antimicrobial peptides to see if having either high or low levels of these could contribute to skin disorders such as psoriasis and eczema.
Building Bigger Muscles
Lastly, there has also been a significant amount of research done to suggest that taking a collagen peptide supplement could increase strength and help build muscle mass. Creatine supplements have also been known to help improve muscle in these two areas.
While creatine protein has been on the market for years, only recently have fitness buffs started using creatine peptides as an alternative.
Creatine peptides may be more beneficial than creatine protein because they are much easier for your body to absorb and will not cause any digestive problems, which is a common issue in individuals who use creatine protein.
The Importance of Peptides In Medical Research
One of the reasons that peptides are being studied so much for medical research is that they are extremely well-suited to be administered as a medication.
This is because they can be used as signaling molecules to stimulate a variety of reactions within the body. And then, once their job is done, they can easily be recycled by the body’s natural functions.
So unlike most other forms of medication, there’s no accumulation in the body that requires any type of intense detoxification by the liver or kidneys.
In the end, their versatility, combined with the fact that peptides pose very little harm to the human body, makes them an ideal candidate for research and the advancement of modern medicine.