Your parents may have told you over and over again to drink your milk. Or you may have heard the saying "milk does the body good" numerous times. But, could milk be the cure-all of the future? Milk has long been touted for its nutritional value, since it is a natural source of protein, calcium, phosphorous, and a host of other vitamins required by the human body. In addition, a mother's milk is prized for playing a key role in the development of the infant innate immune system. But aside from nutrition, in recent years, milk has gained recognition as a rich source of potentially therapeutic proteins and peptides. In particular, peptides of the "milk proteome" have been demonstrated to have a variety of functions, such as antimicrobial, antiviral, antioxidant, immunostimulant, and anti-hypertension activities. Milk peptides have also been proposed to treat Alzheimer's Disease and have even been used as morphine-like pain receptor blockers. These peptides are embedded in native milk proteins, and can be released via protease cleavage.

In the cases below, chemical Peptide Synthesis enabled the study of the potential therapeutics designed from milk-derived peptides.

Publication Highlight

See how GenScript's peptide synthesis service was used to study milk-derived peptides for treating type 2 diabetes:

Inhibition of Dipeptidyl Peptidase IV (DPP-IV) By Tryptophan Containing Dipeptides. (2013) Food and Function. 4: 1843-1849.

Bioactive Milk Peptides Lower Blood Pressure

Peptides derived from milk can serve as angiotensin I converting enzyme inhibitors (ACE inhibitors). ACE normally hydrolyzes the vasoconstrictor, angiotensin I, to angiotensin II, and hydrolyzes the vasodilator, bradykinin, to an inactive peptide that upregulates blood pressure.

In this study, a total of 6 milk peptides with antihypertensive effects were identified and orally administered to mice models. The milk-derived peptides were shown to survive the gastrointestinal tract and exhibit anti-hypertension effects similar to a well-known anti-hypertension drug, captrophil.

Garcia-Tejedor, A (2014) Novel antihypertensive lactoferrin-derived peptides produced by Kluyveromyces marxianus : Gastrointestinal stability profile and in vivo angiotensin I-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibition.62: 1609–1616.

The authors of this publication used GenScript's Custom Peptide Synthesis Services to perform their study.

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Milk-derived Peptides Kill Gastric Cancer Cells

According to a study in the Journal of Diary Science*, a peptide derived from milk is effective at killing gastric cancer cells. Gastric cancer is one of the more deadly forms of cancer with 21,600 new cases diagnosed, and 10,990 associated deaths reported in the United States this year. The 25-mer peptide lactoferricin B25 was derived from a longer peptide found in cow's milk called lactoferrin, which is known for its antimicrobial properties. When incubated with gastric cancer cells, the smaller 25-mer peptide reduced cell viability via induced apoptotic and autophagic pathways. The concept for the study stemmed from earlier findings, which demonstrated that cationic antimicrobial peptides, including lactoferrin, could selectively bind to and disrupt cancer cell membranes without conferring subsequent drug resistance.

*Pan, WR et al. (2013) Bovine lactoferricin B induces apoptosis of human gastric cancer cell line AGS by inhibition of autophagy at a late stage. Journal of Dairy Science 96: 7511-7520.

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Milk dipeptides Target Key Diabetes/Obesity Enzyme

A study published in the journal Food & Function* revealed that dipeptides that could be released by enzymatic digestion of milk proteins inhibit dipeptidyl peptidase IV (DPP-IV), an enzyme involved in glucose metabolism. DPP-IV is a key target of incretin-based diabetes and anti-obesity therapies. Inhibition of DPP-IV results in an increase in the levels of incretin hormones, glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1) and glucose-dependent insulinotropic polypeptide (GIP). Increases in GLP-1 and GIP lead to suppression of appetite and increased survival of β cell (cells that secrete insulin), resulting in the lowering of blood glucose levels. The authors of the study suggest that biofunctional hydrolysates could be used to release bioactive dipeptides from milk proteins in the development of novel type 2 diabetes therapuetics.

*Nongonierma AB and FitzGerald RJ (2013) Inhibition of dipeptidyl peptidase IV (DPP-IV) by tryptophan containing dipeptides. Food and Function. 4: 1843-1849.

The authors of this publication used GenScript's Custom Peptide Synthesis Services to perform their study. Click Here to search for other publications that cite GenScript's peptide services. For an instant peptide synthesis quote try our Online Ordering System.


  • Pihlanto A (2006) Antioxidative peptides derived from milk proteins. International Dairy Journal 16: 1306–1314.
  • Zimeck M and Kruzel ML (2006) Milk-derived proteins and peptides of potential therapeutic and nutritive value. Journal of Experimental Therapeutics and Oncology. 6: 89-106.
  • Clare DA, and Swaisgood HE (2000) Bioactive milk peptides: a prospectus. Journal of Dairy Science. 83: 1187-95.



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