Designing improved active peptides for therapeutic approaches against infectious diseases

Biotechnol Adv. Mar-Apr 2018;36(2):415-429. doi: 10.1016/j.biotechadv.2018.01.004. Epub 2018 Jan 9.


Infectious diseases are one of the main causes of human morbidity and mortality. In the last few decades, pathogenic microorganisms' resistance to conventional drugs has been increasing, and it is now pinpointed as a major worldwide health concern. The need to search for new therapeutic options, as well as improved treatment outcomes, has therefore increased significantly, with biologically active peptides representing a new alternative. A substantial research effort is being dedicated towards their development, especially due to improved biocompatibility and target selectivity. However, the inherent limitations of peptide drugs are restricting their application. In this review, we summarize the current status of peptide drug development, focusing on antiviral and antimicrobial peptide activities, highlighting the design improvements needed, and those already being used, to overcome the drawbacks of the therapeutic application of biologically active peptides.

Keywords: Antimicrobial peptides; Antiviral peptides; Biologically active peptides; Cell-penetrating peptides; Peptide-based drugs.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Infective Agents*
  • Antimicrobial Cationic Peptides*
  • Cell-Penetrating Peptides*
  • Communicable Diseases / drug therapy*
  • Drug Design*
  • Humans


  • Anti-Infective Agents
  • Antimicrobial Cationic Peptides
  • Cell-Penetrating Peptides