Melanocortin peptide therapeutics: historical milestones, clinical studies and commercialization

Peptides. 2006 Apr;27(4):921-30. doi: 10.1016/j.peptides.2005.01.029. Epub 2006 Jan 18.


The melanocortins (MCs) are a family of multifunctional peptidergic hormones. Several superpotent, prolonged acting, enzymatically resistant, MC analogs have been designed and synthesized to help clarify the nature and role of MCs and their receptors (MCRs) in physiological functions. Two of these analogs, a linear peptide, melanotan I, and a cyclic truncated peptide, melanotan II (MTI and MTII, respectively) have been patented and tested clinically for studies on tanning of the skin (MTI) and for diagnosis and treatment of male erectile dysfunction (MTII). A new MTII analog, PT-141 (Palatin Technologies) has initial phase I/II trials and is scheduled to enter pivotal stage III clinical trials leading to commercialization. MTI may provide a therapeutic tan with the potential to lower the risk of skin cancer. PT-141 may improve sexual functionality in both males and females.

Publication types

  • Historical Article
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Clinical Trials as Topic*
  • Drug Industry / economics*
  • Drug Industry / history*
  • History, 20th Century
  • History, 21st Century
  • Humans
  • Receptors, Melanocortin / agonists
  • Receptors, Melanocortin / metabolism
  • Sexual Behavior / drug effects
  • Sexual Behavior / physiology
  • Skin Pigmentation / drug effects
  • alpha-MSH / adverse effects
  • alpha-MSH / history*
  • alpha-MSH / therapeutic use*


  • Receptors, Melanocortin
  • alpha-MSH