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University of the Pacific researchers give peptides a longer life

Approach paves way for more effective peptide therapies

University of the Pacific

Researchers at University of the Pacific have developed a biochemical trick that can significantly extend the lifespan of peptides, smaller cousins of proteins. The finding opens up new possibilities for creating peptides to treat cancer, infertility and other conditions.

The research, led by Mamoun Alhamadsheh, assistant professor of pharmacy at Pacific, is featured in the November issue of Nature Reviews Drug Discovery, a publication that spotlights high-impact papers from Nature, Cell and other major scientific journals.

"The tremendous therapeutic potential of peptides has not yet been realized, mainly because they can't survive long in the bloodstream," Alhamadsheh said. "In our approach, we tagged peptides with a compound that enables it to hitch a ride on a larger protein in blood. This allows the peptides to avoid degradation and survive in the body much longer."

Peptides have been engineered to treat a range of disorders, including cancer and diabetes. These tiny chains of amino acids can be more potent, selective and safe than larger molecules - but their short lifespan demands high doses and frequent administration, limiting their usefulness.

"The extended lifespan provided by our technology will allow less frequent administration of the peptide drug, resulting in lower cost and higher patient compliance and convenience," Alhamadsheh said.

Added Sravan Penchala, first author of the paper and a doctoral student in Alhamadsheh's lab: "We believe this is a step toward making patients' lives better."

Co-first-author Mark Miller, another doctoral student in Alhamadsheh's lab, said the approach has broad potential applications. "In addition to its promise in treating disease, the new technique also has potential to enhance imaging and diagnostic agents," Miller said.


The paper first appeared in the Sept. 7 issue of Nature Chemical Biology. Pacific co-authors are Arindom Pal, Jin Dong, Nikhil Madadi, Jinghang Xie, Patrick Batoon, Trever Cox and Jesse Miles, all doctoral students; Associate Professor Miki Park and Professor William Chan, both of the university's Thomas J. Long School of Pharmacy and Health Sciences; Hyun Joo, a visiting scholar in the Department of Chemistry; and Associate Professor Jerry Tsai, Professor Vyacheslav Samoshin, and Professor Andreas Franz, all of the Department of Chemistry.

The research was supported by grants from the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy, National Institutes of Health and National Science Foundation.

About University of the Pacific

Established in 1851 as the first chartered institution of higher education in California, University of the Pacific prepares students for professional and personal success through rigorous academics, small classes, and a supportive and engaging culture. Widely recognized as one of the most beautiful private university campuses in the West, the Stockton campus offers more than 80 majors in seven schools. The university's distinctive Northern California footprint also includes a campus in San Francisco, home to the Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry and new graduate programs in health, food and technology fields, and in Sacramento, home to the Pacific McGeorge School of Law and new graduate programs in health, education, business and public policy. For more information, visit

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