Are Peptides Illegal?

Peptides have become increasingly popular in the health and fitness industry due to their potential therapeutic benefits. However, the legality of peptides is a complex issue that depends on various factors, including the type of peptide, its intended use, and the regulations in a specific country or region.The rise of biopharmaceuticals has unfortunately also led to the creation of a black market for illegal and counterfeit peptide drugs. These illegal peptides can pose serious health risks due to their unregulated production and distribution. In this article, we will delve into the world of peptides, exploring their uses, the reasons behind their illegal status in certain contexts, and the potential risks associated with their unregulated use
Natasha Puttick

Natasha Puttick

Graduate medical student at Barts and London.

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What are peptides?

Peptides are short chains of amino acids, typically consisting of 2 to 50 units, that are linked together by peptide bonds. They are smaller than proteins and can be thought of as the building blocks of proteins [1]. Peptides are versatile biopolymers that present a wide range of biological functions and can penetrate cell membranes, making them potential therapies for numerous diseases [2].

Peptides can be biologically active, contributing to physiological functions in organisms. They can be used in the food industry as preservatives or antioxidants to prevent food spoilage, and in the pharmaceutical industry, they can serve as antioxidants, antihypertensive, anticoagulant, and immunomodulatory compounds, among other functions [3].

Peptides are also involved in regulating gene expression and protein synthesis in various organisms, including humans. They can penetrate into the nuclei of cells and interact with the nucleosome, the histone proteins (impacting how easily the DNA can be used to make proteins), and DNA [4].

In the context of drug delivery, peptides can overcome physiological and transport barriers presented by diseases, making them attractive in drug delivery and materials engineering for applications including therapeutics, molecular building blocks, and cell-targeting ligands [5].

Are peptides illegal?

Peptides themselves are not illegal. They are naturally occurring or synthetically produced substances that have a wide range of applications, including therapeutic uses.

However, the misuse of certain peptides can be illegal, especially when they are used to enhance athletic performance or body aesthetics without a prescription or medical supervision.

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Natasha Puttick

Natasha Puttick

Natasha is a medical student at Barts and the London school of Medicine and Dentistry, with an interest in the social determinants of health. She graduated from the University of Oxford with a BA in Human Sciences and has obtained two publications. Her most recent work investigating clinical vaccine trials has been published in BMJ Public Health.