Protein therapeutics: a summary and pharmacological classification

Nat Rev Drug Discov. 2008 Jan;7(1):21-39. doi: 10.1038/nrd2399.


Once a rarely used subset of medical treatments, protein therapeutics have increased dramatically in number and frequency of use since the introduction of the first recombinant protein therapeutic--human insulin--25 years ago. Protein therapeutics already have a significant role in almost every field of medicine, but this role is still only in its infancy. This article overviews some of the key characteristics of protein therapeutics, summarizes the more than 130 protein therapeutics used currently and suggests a new classification of these proteins according to their pharmacological action.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cystic Fibrosis / drug therapy
  • Cystic Fibrosis / genetics
  • Cystic Fibrosis Transmembrane Conductance Regulator / genetics
  • Cystic Fibrosis Transmembrane Conductance Regulator / therapeutic use
  • Darbepoetin alfa
  • Diabetes Mellitus / drug therapy
  • Erythropoietin / analogs & derivatives
  • Erythropoietin / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Insulin / therapeutic use
  • Protein Deficiency / drug therapy
  • Proteins / therapeutic use*
  • Recombinant Proteins / therapeutic use*


  • Insulin
  • Proteins
  • Recombinant Proteins
  • Erythropoietin
  • Cystic Fibrosis Transmembrane Conductance Regulator
  • Darbepoetin alfa