Towards the Development of Orally Available Peptide Therapeutics


  • Xu-Dong Kong State Key Laboratory of Microbial Metabolism, and School of Life Sciences & Biotechnology, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, 200240, Shanghai, People's Republic of China
  • Christian Heinis Institute of Chemical Sciences and Engineering, School of Basic Sciences, Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), CH-1015 Lausanne, Switzerland;, Email:





Combinatorial library, Cyclic peptide, Drug development, Macrocycle, Phage display


Peptides have a number of attractive properties that make them an interesting modality for drug development, including their ability to bind challenging targets, their high target specificity, and their non-toxic metabolic products. However, a major limitation of peptides as drugs is their typically poor oral availability, hindering their convenient and flexible application as pills. Of the more than 60 approved peptide drugs, the large majority is not orally applicable. The oral delivery of peptides is hampered by their metabolic instability and/or limited intestinal uptake. In this article, we review the barriers peptides need to overcome after their oral administration to reach disease targets, we highlight two recent successes of pharma companies in developing orally applicable peptide drugs, and we discuss efforts of our laboratory towards the generation of bioavailable cyclic peptides.