Intranasal Peptide Therapeutics: A Promising Avenue for Overcoming the Challenges of Traditional CNS Drug Development

Meenakshi Bose, Gabriela Farias Quipildor, Michelle E. Ehrlich, Stephen R. Salton

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


The central nervous system (CNS) has, among all organ systems in the human body, the highest failure rate of traditional small-molecule drug development, ranging from 80–100% depending on the area of disease research. This has led to widespread abandonment by the pharmaceutical industry of research and development for CNS disorders, despite increased diagnoses of neurodegenerative disorders and the continued lack of adequate treatment options for brain injuries, stroke, neurodevelopmental disorders, and neuropsychiatric illness. However, new approaches, concurrent with the development of sophisticated bioinformatic and genomic tools, are being used to explore peptide-based therapeutics to manipulate endogenous pathways and targets, including “undruggable” intracellular protein-protein interactions (PPIs). The development of peptide-based therapeutics was previously rejected due to systemic off-target effects and poor bioavailability arising from traditional oral and systemic delivery methods. However, targeted nose-to-brain, or intranasal (IN), approaches have begun to emerge that allow CNS-specific delivery of therapeutics via the trigeminal and olfactory nerve pathways, laying the foundation for improved alternatives to systemic drug delivery. Here we review a dozen promising IN peptide therapeutics in preclinical and clinical development for neurodegenerative (Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s), neuropsychiatric (depression, PTSD, schizophrenia), and neurodevelopmental disorders (autism), with insulin, NAP (davunetide), IGF-1, PACAP, NPY, oxytocin, and GLP-1 agonists prominent among them.

Original languageEnglish
Article number3629
Issue number22
StatePublished - Nov 2022


  • BDNF
  • EPO
  • GDNF
  • GLP-1
  • IGF-1
  • NAP
  • NBD
  • NPY
  • insulin
  • intranasal
  • oxytocin
  • peptide therapeutics


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