The protein sequences of man and of many pathogens and food species are now known: there are very many proteins and each is a long chain, or “sequence” of twenty building blocks. We use computer algorithms to scan these protein sequences and identify short functional regions, termed bioactive peptides. These are of great interest in understanding protein interactions that influence cellular signalling in disease, in developing antimicrobial drugs, and in optimising the bioactivity of foodstuffs based on their peptide distributions.
The software developed by the group is used worldwide for peptide discovery. We are applying the software in our own programmes of peptide discovery. A current focus is to identify milk preparations enriched for peptides that can benefit health. For this we work in two directions: starting with the predicted bioactive peptide sequences in the milk proteins and developing preparations enriched for them, and starting from the food preparations and drilling down to discover the important bioactive peptides.
We are mining the genomes of many bacteria to understand better the diversity of predicted antibiotic peptides, that inhibit the growth of other bacteria. We have an interest in the development of cyclic peptides.