Peptide therapy is a type of treatment used for autoimmune disorders, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, and some types of allergies. These therapies are based on the idea that peptides can be used and manipulated to help the body fight certain illnesses and diseases. While there is still a lot of research needed, some patients have shown significant progress and improvement.
Peptides are specific compounds in the body. They are the result of two amino acids. A peptide can be multifunctional, and can function as a protein, a hormone, or aid in the process of digestion. Exactly how a peptide functions is dependent on the type of therapy and condition being treated. This manipulation is a large contributing factor of what makes peptide therapy potentially beneficial.
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Multiple sclerosis is one candidate for peptide therapy. In this treatment, peptides are altered. A specific protein segment, myelin basic protein (MBP), is changed. Altered peptide ligand (APL) protein therapy is the term used to describe this manipulation. Patients with multiple sclerosis suffer from flare-ups of the myelin, which is believed to be attacked by the body, leading to an increase in symptoms.
Peptide therapy can also be used to treat autoimmune problems. In autoimmune conditions, inflammatory T cells promote the development of antigens that target and damage tissue. For this treatment, T cell receptor proteins are targeted and altered. The altered peptides are then used to fight the inflammatory T cells and reduce or prevent the destruction of tissues. Specific conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis, can benefit from peptide therapies.
Antibiotics are considered to be forms of peptide therapy, particularly antibiotics that target Gram negative and positive bacteria that rely on altered proteins because these bacteria are resistant to standard treatments. In some cases, peptide therapies can also be used to help people with compromised immune systems. Using altered peptides can help increase the ability of a weakened immune system to fight off antigens.
In the same manner as treating multiple sclerosis, peptide therapy has shown potential for people who suffer from Parkinson’s disease. The symptoms of this disease are caused in part by the slow destruction of cells in the middle of the brain and leads to a decrease in dopamine, which results in a chemical imbalance. When dopamine levels are low, resting tremors, slow movement, and balance issues occur. Researchers believe that an increase of a specific protein, called NF-kB, can be targeted by altered peptides. An injection of these peptides has shown some potential in blocking this protein.