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1988–2018: Thirty years of drug smuggling at the nano scale. Challenges and opportunities of cell-penetrating peptides in biomedical research

Gallo, Maria, Defaus, Sira, Andreu, David
Archives of biochemistry and biophysics 2019 v.661 pp. 74-86
G-protein coupled receptors, biomedical research, brain, cell membranes, drugs, nucleic acids, parasites, peptides, therapeutics, tissues
In 1988, two unrelated papers reported the discovery of peptide vectors with innate cell translocation properties, setting the ground for a new area of research that over the years has grown into considerable therapeutic potential. The vectors, named cell-penetrating peptides (CPPs), constitute a now large and diversified family, sharing the extraordinary ability to diffuse unaltered across cell membranes while ferrying diverse associated cargos. Such properties have made CPPs ideal tools for delivery of nucleic acids, proteins and other therapeutic/diagnostic molecules to cells and tissues via covalent conjugation or complexation. This year 2018 marks the 30th anniversary of a peptide research landmark opening new perspectives in drug delivery.Given its vastness, exhaustive coverage of the main features and accomplishments in the CPP field is virtually impossible. Hence this manuscript, after saluting the above 30th jubilee, focuses by necessity on the most recent contributions, providing a comprehensive list of recognized CPPs and their latest-reported applications over the last two years. In addition, it thoroughly reviews three areas of peptide vector research of particular interest to us, namely (i) efficient transport of low-bioavailability drugs into the brain; (ii) CPP-delivered disruptors of G protein-coupled receptor (GPCRs) heteromers related to several disorders, and (iii) CPP-mediated delivery of useful but poorly internalized drugs into parasites.