Current state of a dual behaviour of antimicrobial peptides—Therapeutic agents and promising delivery vectors

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Micro-organism resistance is an important challenge in modern medicine due to the global uncontrolled use of antibiotics. Natural and synthetic antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) symbolize a new family of antibiotics, which have stimulated research and clinical interest as new therapeutic options for infections. They represent one of the most promising antimicrobial substances, due to their broad spectrum of biological activity, against bacteria, fungi, protozoa, viruses, yeast and even tumour cells. Besides, being antimicrobial, AMPs have been shown to bind and neutralize bacterial endotoxins, as well as possess immunomodulatory, anti-inflammatory, wound-healing, angiogenic and antitumour properties. In contrast to conventional antibiotics, which have very defined and specific molecular targets, host cationic peptides show varying, complex and very rapid mechanisms of actions that make it difficult to form an effective antimicrobial defence. Importantly, AMPs display their antimicrobial activity at micromolar concentrations or less. To do this, many peptide-based drugs are commercially available for the treatment of numerous diseases, such as hepatitis C, myeloma, skin infections and diabetes. Herein, we present an overview of the general mechanism of AMPs action, along with recent developments regarding carriers of AMPs and their potential applications in medical fields.

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