The Science Behind Custom Peptide Synthesis: Exploring The Process

The Science Behind Custom Peptide Synthesis: Exploring The Process

Despite persistent problems, the twenty-first century has seen advances and improvements in biotechnology and bioengineering. Researchers in the modern medicine era use peptide applications for therapeutic purposes, including cancer treatment and diagnosis, epitope mapping, antibiotic medication development, vaccine creation, and antibody sequencing services. 

Furthermore, the techniques required for vaccine creation have only aided in developing synthetic peptides.

Peptides have grown in importance as medications and therapeutic prospects. Specialty peptides, in particular, have received much attention recently due to their better metabolic stability, greater affinity, and biological target selectivity; some can even pass through cell membranes and be administered orally.

What Is Custom Peptide Synthesis?

The peptides’ building blocks are amino acids arranged in a chain. Peptides are typically small proteins ranging in length from 2 amino acids to 100 amino acids. Peptides occur naturally and have biological purposes, such as serving as messengers in the body. 

Peptide bonds between amino acids create chemical molecules in peptide synthesis. Typically, these procedures are used to produce novel proteins. At the same time, the two primary techniques for creating peptides are liquid-phase and solid-phase synthesis. 

Moving on, custom peptide synthesis is the commercial manufacturing of peptides in pharmacology, molecular medicine, biochemistry, biology, and biotechnology. Synthetic peptides are beneficial tools for biomedical labs and are produced by custom peptide synthesis. 

Synthetic oligopeptides are widely employed in research for structure-function analysis (for instance, to examine protein-protein interfaces), to create binding assays, to investigate receptor agonists/antagonists, or as immunogens for the generation of particular antibodies. 

Using automated solid-phase peptide synthesis techniques, peptides are typically created by joining the N-terminus (or one amino acid’s amino group) to the carboxyl group (or C-terminus) of another. 

What Are The Steps in Peptide Synthesis?

While peptides exist naturally and are present in all living things, researchers frequently manufacture synthetic peptides to create specific peptides. In particular, scientists experiment with including amino acids that are not commonly found in peptides or those that would be challenging for bacteria to express. 

Solid-phase peptide synthesis is the most popular process for making synthetic peptides.

Solid-phase peptide synthesis

Solid phase peptide synthesis (SPPS) is the recognized technique for making synthetic peptides in a lab setting. Through repeated interactions of amino acid derivatives on a macroscopically insoluble solvent-swollen beaded resin support, SPPS enables the quick building of a peptide chain.

With reactive groups (like amine or hydroxyl groups), functionalized small polymeric resin beads connect to the developing peptide chain to make up the solid support. Washing and filtration can eliminate extra reagents and side products because the peptide stays covalently bonded to the support the entire time it is synthesized. 

This method avoids solution-phase synthesis, which avoids the somewhat time-consuming procedure of isolating the product peptide from the solution after each reaction step.

According to the side chain and the chosen protection strategy, each amino acid that is to be connected to the peptide chain’s N-terminus must have the proper protective groups, such as Boc (acid-labile) or Fmoc (base-labile), on both its N-terminus and side chain. 

The N-terminal deprotection and coupling processes alternate in repeated cycles during the main SPPS procedure. Between each process, the resin can be rinsed. The resin is first linked with an amino acid. The amine is subsequently released from protection and linked to the activated carboxyl group of the following amino acid to be added. 

Until the desired sequence has been synthesized, this cycle is repeated. Additionally, capping processes that stop the ends of amino acids from reacting may be included in SPPS cycles.

The crude peptide is released from the solid support after the synthesis, and all protecting groups are concurrently removed using a reagent such as trifluoroacetic acid. Diethyl ether, for example, is a non-polar solvent that can precipitate the crude peptide to remove soluble organic byproducts. 

Reversed phase HPLC can be used to purify the unpurified peptide. Removing cumulative amounts of multiple minor byproducts that share features with the target peptide product can make the purification process difficult, especially for longer peptides. Continuous chromatography methods like MCSGP are increasingly used commercially to increase yield without compromising purity.

Reaction yields restrict SPPS, and proteins and peptides in the range of 70 amino acids often test the boundaries of synthetic accessibility. 

Solution-phase peptide synthesis

Solution-phase peptide synthesis is another method used in the synthetic manufacture of peptides. This method uses many of the same steps as SPPS. However, this process can take longer because the resulting peptide must be separated from the solution following each reaction step. Because of this, SPPS has taken the place of solution-phase peptide synthesis in many labs. 

Peptides frequently employed in industrial applications are still produced on a larger scale using solution-phase peptide synthesis.

Application of custom peptide synthesis

Synthetic peptides are now used in various application areas, including developing epitope-specific antibodies against pathogenic proteins, studying protein functions, and identifying and characterizing proteins. Additionally, synthetic peptides are used to study enzyme-substrate interactions within significant enzyme classes like kinases and proteases, essential for cell signaling.

Similar synthetic peptides are frequently used in cell biology to investigate receptor binding or the specificity of newly discovered enzyme-substrate recognition. In addition to acting as medications for cancer and other severe disorders, synthetic peptides can resemble naturally occurring peptides. 

Synthesized peptides serve as standards and reagents in mass spectrometry (MS) applications. MS relies on synthetic peptides to find, characterize, and quantify proteins that serve as early disease biomarkers.

Importance Of Peptide Synthesis

Removal of Unwanted Soluble Compounds is Simple

The first amino acids in the sequence are joined to a polymer substrate to create polypeptides using the solid phase technique. Removing the polymer from any connected substances from soluble molecules that can be rinsed away is simpler. 

Speaking of which, the chemical reactions between the existing chain and the free-floating amino acids are facilitated by a chain of peptides tethered to a polymer. The chain is maintained, which lowers the aqueous system’s unpredictability level.

The Order of Reactions Can Be Controlled

Chemical groups that protect the free amino acids from interacting with other molecules in the system are added. Using various chemical groups allows for removing each group using multiple chemical processes. 

Scientists can then manipulate which amino acids are created to be reactive first, which ones second, and so on. Only this method will attach the next desirable amino acid in the sequence to the anchored chain.


The importance of peptides and proteins as treatments is demonstrated by the area of peptide science’s phenomenal growth. Several peptides and proteins can be prepared using the methods outlined here. In addition, peptides can be utilized as valuable medications because many have already received approval and are available on the market. The variety of opportunities provided by peptide therapies amply illustrates the current and possible future of the science of peptide chemistry.

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