Journal of Pharmaceutical Investigation

, Volume 48, Issue 1, pp 89–111 | Cite as

Peptides as drug delivery vehicles across biological barriers

  • Debadyuti GhoshEmail author
  • Xiujuan Peng
  • Jasmim Leal
  • Rashmi P. Mohanty


Peptides are small biological molecules that are attractive in drug delivery and materials engineering for applications including therapeutics, molecular building blocks and cell-targeting ligands. Peptides are small but can possess complexity and functionality as larger proteins. Due to their intrinsic properties, peptides are able to overcome the physiological and transport barriers presented by diseases. In this review, we discuss the progress of identifying and using peptides to shuttle across biological barriers and facilitate transport of drugs and drug delivery systems for improved therapy. Here, the focus of this review is on rationally designed, phage display peptides, and even endogenous peptides as carriers to penetrate biological barriers, specifically the blood–brain barrier (BBB), the gastrointestinal tract (GI), and the solid tumor microenvironment (T). We will discuss recent advances of peptides as drug carriers in these biological environments. From these findings, challenges and potential opportunities to iterate and improve peptide-based approaches will be discussed to translate their promise towards the clinic to deliver drugs for therapeutic efficacy.


Peptides Drug delivery Carrier Blood–brain barrier GI Tumor 



The authors acknowledge and are thankful for funding provided by the National Institutes of Health (R01-HL138251). This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by any of the authors. This article follows ethical standards set by the International Standards for Editors and Authors. This article does not involve any studies conducted by the authors and informed consent was not needed.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© The Korean Society of Pharmaceutical Sciences and Technology 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Division of Molecular Pharmaceutics and Drug Delivery, College of PharmacyThe University of Texas at AustinAustinUSA

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