Use of Exogenous Enzymes in Human Therapy: Approved Drugs and Potential Applications

Authors: Patrizia Cioni, Edi Gabellieri, Barbara Campanini, Stefano Bettati, Samanta Raboni
Journal: Current Medicinal Chemistry
DOI: 10.2174/0929867328666210713094722
The development of safe and efficacious enzyme-based human therapies has increased greatly in the last decades, thanks to remarkable advances in the understanding of the molecular mechanisms responsible for different diseases, and the characterization of the catalytic activity of relevant exogenous enzymes that may play a remedial effect in the treatment of such pathologies. Several enzyme-based biotherapeutics have been approved by FDA (the U.S. Food and Drug Administration) and EMA (the European Medicines Agency) and many are undergoing clinical trials. Apart from enzyme replacement therapy in human genetic diseases, which is not discussed in this review, approved enzymes for human therapy find applications in several fields, from cancer therapy to thrombolysis and the treatment, e.g., of clotting disorders, cystic fibrosis, lactose intolerance and collagen-based disorders.

The majority of therapeutic enzymes are of microbial origin, the most convenient source due to fast, simple and cost-effective production and manipulation. The use of microbial recombinant enzymes has broadened prospects for human therapy but some hurdles such as high immunogenicity, protein instability, short half-life and low substrate affinity, still need to be tackled. Alternative sources of enzymes, with reduced side effects and improved activity, as well as genetic modification of the enzymes and novel delivery systems are constantly searched. Chemical modification strategies, targeted- and/or nanocarrier-mediated delivery, directed evolution and site-specific mutagenesis, fusion proteins generated by genetic manipulation are the most explored tools to reduce toxicity and improve bioavailability and cellular targeting.

This review provides a description of exogenous enzymes that are presently employed for the therapeutic management of human diseases with their current FDA/EMA-approved status, along with those already experimented at the clinical level and potential promising candidates.

Keywords: recombinant proteins, pharmaceutical enzymes, anticancer biologics, fibrinolytic therapy, cancer enzymatic starvation, biopharmaceuticals.

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