Are Peptides Safe?
Peptides are an increasingly important class of drugs in medicine. Though you may already be familiar with one type of peptide—insulin is a popular example—a wide array of peptides are emerging as therapeutics for a diverse range of applications, including improving immune function, tissue and injury repair, weight loss, peri and menopause, body composition, brain functioning, and even multiple sclerosis (MS) treatment.
In 2012 alone, six new peptides were approved as drugs by the US Food & Drug Administration (FDA). Today, over 60 peptide-based drugs are currently in the market. Biochemists, healthcare providers, and consumers alike are excited by the possibilities presented by peptides, primarily because of their effectiveness at targeting receptors and triggering specific cellular responses in the body—all with fewer side effects than small-molecule drugs. (Like peptides, small molecule drugs can be synthesized in the lab and are easily able to penetrate cell membranes to get inside of cells, but they don’t offer as high specificity as peptides and often carry a larger side effect profile.) But one question remains at the top of many consumers' minds: are peptides safe?
What are peptides?
According to the FDA, any polymer made up of short chains of 40 or fewer amino acids is considered a peptide. (Most proteins, by comparison, are made up of much longer chains of amino acids.) Many peptides are produced naturally in the body but they can also be synthetically produced in a laboratory.
Of the more than 7,000 peptides that occur naturally, many play critical roles in human physiology, including acting as hormones, neurotransmitters, or signaling molecules. Put simply, they work by selectively binding to specific cell surface receptors or ion channels, where they then trigger certain cellular responses.
This high specificity, along with their excellent tolerability and efficacy profiles in humans, makes peptide drugs ideal candidates for pharmaceuticals. Currently, peptides are used widely in cancer, diabetes, infectious diseases, and many other types of treatments.
How do I know my peptides are safe?
Safety is an important concern when considering using any new or emerging therapeutic. Generally, peptide drugs have impressive safety profiles thanks to their low rate of side effects and contraindications with other medications. But there are some actions you can take to ensure that the products you’re using are of the highest safety standard:
Choose verified pharmacies: When sourcing your peptides, make sure you go through verified pharmacies. Verified pharmacies also perform purity testing, including high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC), to confirm the purity of a peptide treatment.
Trained physician oversight: When starting any new medication or treatment, it’s generally a good idea to ensure that you’re being monitored by a trained physician. Having regular check-ins with a physician trained in the peptide space can help to ensure that your treatment plan is safe and effective.
Regular laboratory testing: In addition to having physician oversight, getting regular lab testing can help to ensure that the treatments you’re taking are having the desired effect. They can also help identify if and when a change in dosage or protocol is required.
How can I use peptides safely?
Peptides have been shown to be safe and effective treatment options for a number of conditions. To ensure that you’re using peptides safely, consult with a licensed healthcare provider about which peptide may be right for you and what medical oversight is recommended. To learn more about how Telegenixx and its evidence-based and regenerative peptide therapies, visit this page.
Impact Story: Developing the Tools to Evaluate Complex Drug Products: Peptides. (2019.) https://www.fda.gov/drugs/regulatory-science-action/impact-story-developing-tools-evaluate-complex-drug-products-peptides
Peptide therapeutics: current status and future directions. (2015.) https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1359644614003997
THPdb: Database of FDA-approved peptide and protein therapeutics. (2017.) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5536290/