Naturally-Sourced Biomolecules, Their Regulatory Actions, and Applications in Chronic Disease Management

A special issue of Biomolecules (ISSN 2218-273X). This special issue belongs to the section "Natural and Bio-inspired Molecules".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 March 2023) | Viewed by 16516

Special Issue Editors


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Guest Editor
College of Life Sciences, Nankai University, Tianjin, China
Interests: fibrosis; wound healing; cell biology; molecular signaling; nanomedicine; biomaterials; gene therapy; peptide engineering; alternative splicing; epigenetic regulation
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Guest Editor
School of Food and Biological Engineering, Shaanxi University of Science and Technology, Xi’an, China
Interests: molecules interaction; delivery; encapsulation; protein; polysaccharides; bioactives; functional food; glucose metabolism

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Guest Editor
Regenerative Biology Group, Oral and Biomedical Sciences, School of Dentistry, Cardiff Institute of Tissue Engineering and Repair (CITER), Cardiff University, Heath Park, Cardiff, UK
Interests: wound healing; regenerative medicine; chronic wounds; myofibroblasts; scarring and fibrosis; natural compounds; drug development; oxidative stress; cellular senescence; type II diabetes
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Naturally derived biomolecules can serve as effective tools for novel biocompatible drug delivery vehicles, targeted therapies, and routes to drug discovery for the treatment of a wide variety of chronic diseases. The development of natural peptide/protein-based, polysaccharide-/hydrocolloid-based, and plant-derived drugs (phytomedicines) can significantly improve the biomedical efficiency of disease-specific therapy.

This Special Issue of Biomolecules seeks manuscripts that provide new insights on recent advances related to novel naturally derived biomolecules and macromolecules as forms of medicinal therapy for chronic disease management. Recent advances in the discovery and development of natural biomolecules as targeted cell-influencing therapies, immunoregulatory therapies, and as carrier vehicles for tackling chronic diseases (e.g., cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, autoinflammatory diseases, non-healing wounds, fibrosis) will be addressed. Finally, an overview of some selected promising natural biomolecules that are potentially able to address prominent and forthcoming medical and scientific challenges in this field will be included.

We encourage scientists working in this area of research to submit original research articles or critical reviews that synthesize the current research literature and discuss emerging directions. Thus, these studies will contribute to the development of natural therapeutic interventions that target the mechanisms of chronic disease pathogenesis and recovery.

Dr. Adam C. Midgley
Dr. Xiaolin Yao
Dr. Ryan Moseley 
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Biomolecules is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2700 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • peptide/protein engineering
  • peptide/protein therapy
  • targeted therapy
  • therapeutic/drug carriers
  • hydrocolloids/polysaccharides
  • emulsions
  • phytomedicines
  • natural polymers
  • natural biomaterials
  • tissue regeneration
  • therapeutic discovery/development
  • chronic disease

Published Papers (5 papers)

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Review

0 pages, 713 KiB  
Review
Emergent Peptides of the Antifibrotic Arsenal: Taking Aim at Myofibroblast Promoting Pathways
by Zhen Liu, Xinyan Zhang, Yanrong Wang, Yifan Tai, Xiaolin Yao and Adam C. Midgley
Biomolecules 2023, 13(8), 1179; https://doi.org/10.3390/biom13081179 - 28 Jul 2023
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1911 | Correction
Abstract
Myofibroblasts are the principal effector cells driving fibrosis, and their accumulation in tissues is a fundamental feature of fibrosis. Essential pathways have been identified as being central to promoting myofibroblast differentiation, revealing multiple targets for intervention. Compared with large proteins and antibodies, peptide-based [...] Read more.
Myofibroblasts are the principal effector cells driving fibrosis, and their accumulation in tissues is a fundamental feature of fibrosis. Essential pathways have been identified as being central to promoting myofibroblast differentiation, revealing multiple targets for intervention. Compared with large proteins and antibodies, peptide-based therapies have transpired to serve as biocompatible and cost-effective solutions to exert biomimicry, agonistic, and antagonistic activities with a high degree of targeting specificity and selectivity. In this review, we summarize emergent antifibrotic peptides and their utilization for the targeted prevention of myofibroblasts. We then highlight recent studies on peptide inhibitors of upstream pathogenic processes that drive the formation of profibrotic cell phenotypes. We also briefly discuss peptides from non-mammalian origins that show promise as antifibrotic therapeutics. Finally, we discuss the future perspectives of peptide design and development in targeting myofibroblasts to mitigate fibrosis. Full article
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0 pages, 2917 KiB  
Review
Fungal Drug Discovery for Chronic Disease: History, New Discoveries and New Approaches
by Thomas A. K. Prescott, Rowena Hill, Eduard Mas-Claret, Ester Gaya and Edie Burns
Biomolecules 2023, 13(6), 986; https://doi.org/10.3390/biom13060986 - 14 Jun 2023
Cited by 9 | Viewed by 3397
Abstract
Fungal-derived drugs include some of the most important medicines ever discovered, and have proved pivotal in treating chronic diseases. Not only have they saved millions of lives, but they have in some cases changed perceptions of what is medically possible. However, now the [...] Read more.
Fungal-derived drugs include some of the most important medicines ever discovered, and have proved pivotal in treating chronic diseases. Not only have they saved millions of lives, but they have in some cases changed perceptions of what is medically possible. However, now the low-hanging fruit have been discovered it has become much harder to make the kind of discoveries that have characterised past eras of fungal drug discovery. This may be about to change with new commercial players entering the market aiming to apply novel genomic tools to streamline the discovery process. This review examines the discovery history of approved fungal-derived drugs, and those currently in clinical trials for chronic diseases. For key molecules, we discuss their possible ecological functions in nature and how this relates to their use in human medicine. We show how the conservation of drug receptors between fungi and humans means that metabolites intended to inhibit competitor fungi often interact with human drug receptors, sometimes with unintended benefits. We also plot the distribution of drugs, antimicrobial compounds and psychoactive mushrooms onto a fungal tree and compare their distribution to those of all fungal metabolites. Finally, we examine the phenomenon of self-resistance and how this can be used to help predict metabolite mechanism of action and aid the drug discovery process. Full article
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20 pages, 2231 KiB  
Review
The Potential of Edible and Medicinal Resource Polysaccharides for Prevention and Treatment of Neurodegenerative Diseases
by Qingxia Gan, Yugang Ding, Maoyao Peng, Linlin Chen, Jijing Dong, Jiaxi Hu and Yuntong Ma
Biomolecules 2023, 13(5), 873; https://doi.org/10.3390/biom13050873 - 22 May 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 2017
Abstract
As natural medicines in complementary and alternative medicine, edible and medicinal resources are being gradually recognized throughout the world. According to statistics from the World Health Organization, about 80% of the worldwide population has used edible and medicinal resource products to prevent and [...] Read more.
As natural medicines in complementary and alternative medicine, edible and medicinal resources are being gradually recognized throughout the world. According to statistics from the World Health Organization, about 80% of the worldwide population has used edible and medicinal resource products to prevent and treat diseases. Polysaccharides, one of the main effective components in edible and medicinal resources, are considered ideal regulators of various biological responses due to their high effectiveness and low toxicity, and they have a wide range of possible applications for the development of functional foods for the regulation of common, frequently occurring, chronic and severe diseases. Such applications include the development of polysaccharide products for the prevention and treatment of neurodegenerative diseases that are difficult to control by a single treatment, which is of great value to the aging population. Therefore, we evaluated the potential of polysaccharides to prevent neurodegeneration by their regulation of behavioral and major pathologies, including abnormal protein aggregation and neuronal damage caused by neuronal apoptosis, autophagy, oxidative damage, neuroinflammation, unbalanced neurotransmitters, and poor synaptic plasticity. This includes multi-target and multi-pathway regulation involving the mitochondrial pathway, MAPK pathway, NF-κB pathway, Nrf2 pathway, mTOR pathway, PI3K/AKT pathway, P53/P21 pathway, and BDNF/TrkB/CREB pathway. In this paper, research into edible and medicinal resource polysaccharides for neurodegenerative diseases was reviewed in order to provide a basis for the development and application of polysaccharide health products and promote the recognition of functional products of edible and medicinal resources. Full article
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26 pages, 3726 KiB  
Review
Evidence for Natural Products as Alternative Wound-Healing Therapies
by Rachael L. Moses, Thomas A. K. Prescott, Eduard Mas-Claret, Robert Steadman, Ryan Moseley and Alastair J. Sloan
Biomolecules 2023, 13(3), 444; https://doi.org/10.3390/biom13030444 - 27 Feb 2023
Cited by 9 | Viewed by 5074
Abstract
Chronic, non-healing wounds represent a significant area of unmet medical need and are a growing problem for healthcare systems around the world. They affect the quality of life for patients and are an economic burden, being difficult and time consuming to treat. They [...] Read more.
Chronic, non-healing wounds represent a significant area of unmet medical need and are a growing problem for healthcare systems around the world. They affect the quality of life for patients and are an economic burden, being difficult and time consuming to treat. They are an escalating problem across the developed world due to the increasing incidence of diabetes and the higher prevalence of ageing populations. Effective treatment options are currently lacking, and in some cases chronic wounds can persist for years. Some traditional medicines are believed to contain bioactive small molecules that induce the healing of chronic wounds by reducing excessive inflammation, thereby allowing re-epithelisation to occur. Furthermore, many small molecules found in plants are known to have antibacterial properties and, although they lack the therapeutic selectivity of antibiotics, they are certainly capable of acting as topical antiseptics when applied to infected wounds. As these molecules act through mechanisms of action distinct from those of clinically used antibiotics, they are often active against antibiotic resistant bacteria. Although there are numerous studies highlighting the effects of naturally occurring small molecules in wound-healing assays in vitro, only evidence from well conducted clinical trials can allow these molecules or the remedies that contain them to progress to the clinic. With this in mind, we review wound-healing natural remedies that have entered clinical trials over a twenty-year period to the present. We examine the bioactive small molecules likely to be in involved and, where possible, their mechanisms of action. Full article
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15 pages, 1066 KiB  
Review
Plant-Derived Bioactive Compounds and Potential Health Benefits: Involvement of the Gut Microbiota and Its Metabolic Activity
by Xinyu Chen, Shifeng Pan, Fei Li, Xinyu Xu and Hua Xing
Biomolecules 2022, 12(12), 1871; https://doi.org/10.3390/biom12121871 - 13 Dec 2022
Cited by 11 | Viewed by 3216
Abstract
The misuse and abuse of antibiotics in livestock and poultry seriously endanger both human health and the continuously healthy development of the livestock and poultry breeding industry. Plant-derived bioactive compounds (curcumin, capsaicin, quercetin, resveratrol, catechin, lignans, etc.) have been widely studied in recent [...] Read more.
The misuse and abuse of antibiotics in livestock and poultry seriously endanger both human health and the continuously healthy development of the livestock and poultry breeding industry. Plant-derived bioactive compounds (curcumin, capsaicin, quercetin, resveratrol, catechin, lignans, etc.) have been widely studied in recent years, due to their extensive pharmacological functions and biological activities, such as anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antistress, antitumor, antiviral, lowering blood glucose and lipids, and improving insulin sensitivity. Numerous studies have demonstrated that plant-derived bioactive compounds are able to enhance the host’s ability to resist or diminish diseases by regulating the abundance of its gut microbiota, achieving great potential as a substitute for antibiotics. Recent developments in both humans and animals have also highlighted the major contribution of gut microbiota to the host’s nutrition, metabolism, immunity, and neurological functions. Changes in gut microbiota composition are closely related to the development of obesity and can lead to numerous metabolic diseases. Mounting evidence has also demonstrated that plant-derived bioactive compounds, especially curcumin, can improve intestinal barrier function by regulating intestinal flora. Furthermore, bioactive constituents can be also directly metabolized by intestinal flora and further produce bioactive metabolites by the interaction between the host and intestinal flora. This largely enhances the protective effect of bioactive compounds on the host intestinal and whole body health, indicating that the bidirectional regulation between bioactive compounds and intestinal flora has great application potential in maintaining the host’s intestinal health and preventing or treating various diseases. This review mainly summarizes the latest research progress in the bioregulation between gut microbiota and plant-derived bioactive compounds, together with its application potential in humans and animals, so as to provide theoretical support for the application of plant-derived bioactive compounds as new feed additives and potential substitutes for antibiotics in the livestock and poultry breeding industry. Overall, based on this review, it can be concluded that plant-derived bioactive compounds, by modulating gut microbiota, hold great promise toward the healthy development of both humans and animal husbandry. Full article
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