High/Low Frequency Ultrasound Waves Boost Transdermal Drug Delivery
September 17, 2012 8:15 PM
transdermal drug delivery patch
Skin treated with the ultrasound waves was able to absorb glucose 10 times better, and inulin four times better
MIT researchers have successfully used
to make transdermal drug delivery an easier and more accurate process.
Transdermal drug delivery is when certain drugs permeate the skin as a means of delivery rather than other methods like a needle. The MIT research team wanted to make transdermal drug delivery easier and more efficient by increasing the skin permeability to these drugs.
The team was able to do this with the help of ultrasound waves, which are used to eliminate the top layer of skin painlessly. This allows the medicine to seep into the skin more easily. However, there are two kinds of ultrasound waves: high frequency and low frequency. Neither seem to work independently, but the research team found that a combination of the two did the trick.
Here's how it works: ultrasound waves create bubbles when moving through fluid, and these bubbles eventually implode once they reach a certain size. When this happens, the surrounding fluid rushes into their place creating microjets, which cause abrasions on the skin. The problem with high-frequency ultrasound waves is that they don't have enough energy to pop the bubbles. Low-frequency waves, on the other hand, tend to create abrasions erratically in random areas. In other words, there's no control with the low-frequency waves.
However, by combining the two, the high-frequency waves can create the bubbles and control their lateral movements while the low-frequency waves can pop them for abrasions that are on target. With effective and on-point abrasions, medicine could be delivered through the skin to the correct areas.
This method was tested on pig skin. After the ultrasound waves eliminated the top layer of skin, glucose and inulin were applied to the target areas. As it turns out, the skin that was treated with the ultrasound waves was able to absorb glucose 10 times better, and inulin four times better.
The MIT team believe this could lead to better medicine delivery in patients like
Type 1 diabetics
, which regularly inject insulin via needle. With more work, this system could possibly be used for transdermal insulin delivery. It could also be used for skin conditions like acne, where necessary medications can be absorbed non-invasively.
For more info, check out the following video from MIT:
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