Biotechnology advances 2016 5 24() pii 10.1016/j.biotechadv.2016.05.007
Tuberculosis (TB), a disease caused by the human pathogen Mycobacterium tuberculosis, has recently joined HIV/AIDS as the world’s deadliest infectious disease, affecting around 9.6 million people worldwide in 2014. Of those, about 1.2 million died from the disease. Resistance acquisition to existing antibiotics, with the subsequent emergence of Multi-Drug Resistant mycobacteria strains, together with an increasing economic burden, has urged the development of new anti-TB drugs. In this scope, antimicrobial peptides (AMPs), which are small, cationic and amphipathic peptides that make part of the innate immune system, now arise as promising candidates for TB treatment. In this review, we analyze the potential of AMPs for this application. We address the mechanisms of action, advantages and disadvantages over conventional antibiotics and how problems associated with its use may be overcome to boost their therapeutic potential. Additionally, we address the challenges of translational development from benchside to bedside, evaluate the current development pipeline and analyze the expected global impact from a socio-economic standpoint. The quest for more efficient and more compliant anti-TB drugs, associated with the great therapeutic potential of emerging AMPs and the rising peptide market, provide an optimal environment for the emergence of AMPs as promising therapies. Still, their pharmacological properties need to be enhanced and manufacturing-associated issues need to be addressed.