A Global Review on Short Peptides: Frontiers and Perspectives

Molecules. 2021 Jan 15;26(2):430. doi: 10.3390/molecules26020430.


Peptides are fragments of proteins that carry out biological functions. They act as signaling entities via all domains of life and interfere with protein-protein interactions, which are indispensable in bio-processes. Short peptides include fundamental molecular information for a prelude to the symphony of life. They have aroused considerable interest due to their unique features and great promise in innovative bio-therapies. This work focusing on the current state-of-the-art short peptide-based therapeutical developments is the first global review written by researchers from all continents, as a celebration of 100 years of peptide therapeutics since the commencement of insulin therapy in the 1920s. Peptide "drugs" initially played only the role of hormone analogs to balance disorders. Nowadays, they achieve numerous biomedical tasks, can cross membranes, or reach intracellular targets. The role of peptides in bio-processes can hardly be mimicked by other chemical substances. The article is divided into independent sections, which are related to either the progress in short peptide-based theranostics or the problems posing challenge to bio-medicine. In particular, the SWOT analysis of short peptides, their relevance in therapies of diverse diseases, improvements in (bio)synthesis platforms, advanced nano-supramolecular technologies, aptamers, altered peptide ligands and in silico methodologies to overcome peptide limitations, modern smart bio-functional materials, vaccines, and drug/gene-targeted delivery systems are discussed.

Keywords: SARS-COV-2; altered peptide ligands; ant/super/agonists; aptamers; bilayer interactions; cancer; cell-penetrating peptides; constrained amino acids and peptide (bio)mimetics; cosmeceuticals; diketopiperazine; drug design and drug/gene delivery; short peptides; synthesis; vaccines.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acids / chemistry
  • Anti-Infective Agents / chemistry
  • Anti-Infective Agents / pharmacology*
  • Antiviral Agents / chemistry
  • Antiviral Agents / pharmacology*
  • COVID-19 Drug Treatment
  • Computer Simulation
  • Cosmeceuticals / chemistry
  • Cosmeceuticals / therapeutic use
  • Dietary Supplements
  • Gene Transfer Techniques
  • Humans
  • Lactoferrin / chemistry
  • Lipid Bilayers
  • Nanostructures / administration & dosage
  • Nanostructures / chemistry
  • Peptides / administration & dosage
  • Peptides / chemistry*
  • Peptides / pharmacology*
  • Peptides / therapeutic use*
  • Stem Cells
  • Vaccines, Subunit / chemistry
  • Vaccines, Subunit / pharmacology


  • Amino Acids
  • Anti-Infective Agents
  • Antiviral Agents
  • Cosmeceuticals
  • Lipid Bilayers
  • Peptides
  • Vaccines, Subunit
  • Lactoferrin