Antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) are peptide-based effector molecules produced by the innate
immune system to combat microbes. Insects produce the broadest repertoire of AMPs, and their
potent antimicrobial activity in vitro and in vivo has promoted their development as alternatives to
conventional antibiotics, in an attempt to address the threat of multidrug-resistant pathogens. Here we
discuss current obstacles that hinder the therapeutic development of novel insect-derived AMPs, including
potential cytotoxic, immunogenic and allergenic side effects, and the high costs of large-scale
production. These challenges may be overcome by the falling costs of synthetic peptide analogs and
the heterologous production of recombinant peptides in insect cells or plants (molecular pharming).
Insect AMPs offer a promising alternative for the treatment of skin, eye and lung infections, and could
also restore the susceptibility of multidrug-resistant pathogens to conventional antibiotics when used
as combinatorial treatments. Insect AMPs can also be used as templates for the rational design of peptide
mimetics to overcome the drawbacks of natural therapeutic peptides.
Keywords: Antimicrobial peptides, Anti-infectives, Drug development, Insects, Infectious diseases, Insect biotechnology,
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