Journal article Open Access

Therapeutic potential of polypeptide-based conjugates: Rational design and analytical tools that can boost clinical translation

Melnyk, Tetiana; Đorđević, Snežana; Conejos-Sánchez, Inmaculada; Vicent, María J.

The clinical success of polypeptides as polymeric drugs, covered by the umbrella term “polymer therapeutics,” combined with related scientific and technological breakthroughs, explain their exponential growth in the development of polypeptide-drug conjugates as therapeutic agents. A deeper understanding of the biology at relevant pathological sites and the critical biological barriers faced, combined with advances regarding controlled polymerization techniques, material bioresponsiveness, analytical methods, and scale up-manufacture processes, have fostered the development of these nature-mimicking entities. Now, engineered polypeptides have the potential to combat current challenges in the advanced drug delivery field. In this review, we will discuss examples of polypeptide-drug conjugates as single or combination therapies in both preclinical and clinical studies as therapeutics and molecular imaging tools. Importantly, we will critically discuss relevant examples to highlight those parameters relevant to their rational design, such as linking chemistry, the analytical strategies employed, and their physicochemical and biological characterization, that will foster their rapid clinical translation.

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