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Peptide therapeutics for CNS indications

Neuropeptides play a crucial role in the normal function of the central nervous system and peptide
receptors hold great promise as therapeutic targets for the treatment of several CNS disorders. In general,
the development of peptide therapeutics has been limited by the lack of drug-like properties of peptides
and this has made it very difficult to transform them into marketable therapeutic molecules. Some of
these challenges include poor in vivo stability, poor solubility, incompatibility with oral administration,
shelf stability, cost of manufacture. Recent technical advances have overcome many of these limitations
and have led to rapid growth in the development of peptides for a wide range of therapeutic indications
such as diabetes, cancer and pain. This review examines the therapeutic potential of peptide agonists for
the treatment of major CNS disorders such as schizophrenia, anxiety, depression and autism. Both
clinical and preclinical data has been accumulated supporting the potential utility of agonists at central
neurotensin, cholecystokinin, neuropeptide Y and oxytocin receptors. Some of the successful approaches
that have been developed to increase the stability and longevity of peptides in vivo and improve their
delivery are also described and potential strategies for overcoming the major challenge that is unique to
CNS therapeutics, penetration of the blood–brain barrier, are discussed.

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