The enzyme as drug: application of enzymes as pharmaceuticals

Curr Opin Biotechnol. 2003 Aug;14(4):444-50. doi: 10.1016/s0958-1669(03)00092-2.


Enzymes as drugs have two important features that distinguish them from all other types of drugs. First, enzymes often bind and act on their targets with great affinity and specificity. Second, enzymes are catalytic and convert multiple target molecules to the desired products. These two features make enzymes specific and potent drugs that can accomplish therapeutic biochemistry in the body that small molecules cannot. These characteristics have resulted in the development of many enzyme drugs for a wide range of disorders.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adenosine Deaminase / therapeutic use
  • Administration, Inhalation
  • Administration, Oral
  • Animals
  • Chondroitinases and Chondroitin Lyases / therapeutic use
  • Communicable Diseases / drug therapy
  • Communicable Diseases / enzymology
  • Enzyme Therapy*
  • Humans
  • Hyaluronoglucosaminidase / therapeutic use
  • Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Neoplasms / enzymology
  • Peptide Hydrolases / therapeutic use
  • Severe Combined Immunodeficiency / drug therapy
  • Severe Combined Immunodeficiency / enzymology


  • Hyaluronoglucosaminidase
  • Peptide Hydrolases
  • Adenosine Deaminase
  • Chondroitinases and Chondroitin Lyases