Peptides are a compound of amino acids in which a Carboxyl group of one amino acid is united with the amino group of the other. This eliminates the water molecules present hence forming peptides. In simple terms, a peptide is a small protein. Basically, anything with less than fifty amino acids is considered a peptide. A dipeptide is made up of two or more amino acids joined by a peptide bond. A Tripeptide on the other hand is a group of 3 amino acids bound by two peptide bonds.
Extensive researches is being undertaken by different research bodies to identify the medical uses of peptides. According to a recent interview on American Science Labs with Bruno Meloni PhD from the Center for Neuromuscular and Neurology, The University of Western Australia, Nedlands, it has been discovered that peptides may be used to reduce the brain damage which results after stroke. The study was conducted due to lack of clinically available neuroprotective drugs which can be used to minimize brain injury after stroke. In the research, the institute was using arginine-rich peptides for a number of years to introduce experimental neuroprotective peptides into the brain and the brain cells. Arginine is among the 20 amino acids produced naturally by the body. . Peptides rich in Arginine have a unique property. They can transverse cell membranes and enter into the body cells and even cross the blood-brain barrier. Most medicinal drugs cannot do this.
While using the Vitro neural cell culture-stroke models, the research institute discovered that peptides rich in poly-arginine or arginines possessed potential neuroprotective properties. They also discovered that the arginine neuroprotective properties increased with the increase in the length of the poly-arginine peptide. The research has so far managed to confirm that a poly-arginine peptide can reduce brain damage when administered up to one hour after stroke using laboratory animal stroke model. The results of these findings can also be used to reduce brain damage resulting from other acute brain disorders including traumatic Brain Injury and Perinatal Hypoxia-ischemia.
Another research on peptides suggests that using synthetic peptides, it’s now possible to slow the progression of the Parkinson’s disease. The man-made peptide stops faulty protein fibrils from being formed. Parkinson’s disease is a progressive neurological disorder that is caused by brain cells that release a chemical known as dopamine that is used for controlling movement and conveying messages. Statistics suggest that up to 10 million people are living with the disorder worldwide. Parkinson’s disease is caused by loss of Dopamine cells in the brain. This happens when faulty protein fibrils are formed in the brain thus killing the brain cells which produce dopamine. This means that by stopping the formation of faulty protein membrane, the synthetic peptide is able to slow down the progression of the Parkinson’s disease. This new study is led by the University of Bath and funded by the Parkinson’s UK. During the study, researchers discovered that their man made peptides sticks to a misshapen α- synuclein and subsequently stops it from stacking in to the fibrils that kill of the brain cells that produce dopamine. The Peptide matches α – synuclein region that is mutated in Parkinson’s. To make the peptide-that is made up of 10 amino acids, the team went through the painstaking process of researching peptides of the ones that could match α – synuclein region that is mutated in the early stages of Parkinson’s. According to the study leader Dr Jody Mason from the Bath Department of Biology and Biochemistry, the work is still on its early stages but so far the researchers are motivated by their findings. The researchers are hopeful that their findings can be a breakthrough in treating Parkinson’s disease.
The findings on recent researches on peptides have made the world to view peptides in an entirely new light. It is no longer considered an anti-aging product. Now peptides are being considered as breakthroughs in the neurology and neuroprotective fields. If both studies are to be successful, then stroke will no longer be as fatal as it used to be since the arginine will be used to reduce the brain damage which makes stroke so fatal. The synthetic peptide used to slow down the progression of Parkinson’s disease can also be used to produce the cure of Parkinson’s disease if the studies are successful enough.