From the outside and within, we are constantly bombarded with a myriad of diverse microbial species. However, our bodies are equipped with an evolutionarily conserved innate immune defense system that allows us to thwart potential pathogens. Antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) are a unique and assorted group of molecules produced by living organisms of all types, considered to be part of the host innate immunity. These peptides demonstrate potent antimicrobial activity and are rapidly mobilized to neutralize a broad range of microbes, including viruses, bacteria, protozoa, and fungi. More significantly, the ability of these natural molecules to kill multidrug-resistant microorganisms has gained them considerable attention and clinical interest. With the growing microbial resistance to conventional antimicrobial agents, the need for unconventional therapeutic options has become urgent. This article provides an overview of AMPs, their biological functions, mechanism of action, and applicability as alternative therapeutic agents.
Presently, AMPs represent one of the most promising future strategies for combating infections and microbial drug resistance. This is evident by the increasing number of studies to which these peptides are subjected. As our need for new antimicrobials becomes more pressing, the question remains: can we develop novel drugs based on the design principles of primitive molecules?