Review Article | Published:

Transdermal drug delivery

Nature Biotechnology volume 26, pages 12611268 (2008) | Download Citation

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Abstract

Transdermal drug delivery has made an important contribution to medical practice, but has yet to fully achieve its potential as an alternative to oral delivery and hypodermic injections. First-generation transdermal delivery systems have continued their steady increase in clinical use for delivery of small, lipophilic, low-dose drugs. Second-generation delivery systems using chemical enhancers, noncavitational ultrasound and iontophoresis have also resulted in clinical products; the ability of iontophoresis to control delivery rates in real time provides added functionality. Third-generation delivery systems target their effects to skin's barrier layer of stratum corneum using microneedles, thermal ablation, microdermabrasion, electroporation and cavitational ultrasound. Microneedles and thermal ablation are currently progressing through clinical trials for delivery of macromolecules and vaccines, such as insulin, parathyroid hormone and influenza vaccine. Using these novel second- and third-generation enhancement strategies, transdermal delivery is poised to significantly increase its impact on medicine.

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Acknowledgements

We thank Daniel Bucks, Gary Cleary, Robert Gale, Samir Mitragotri and Audra Stinchcomb for helpful discussions. M.R.P. is the Emerson-Lewis Faculty Fellow and works at the Center for Drug Design, Development and Delivery and the Institute for Bioengineering and Bioscience at Georgia Tech. This work was supported in part by the National Institutes of Health.

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Affiliations

  1. School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, Georgia Institute of Technology, 311 Ferst Dr., Atlanta, Georgia 30332-0100, USA. prausnitz@gatech.edu

    • Mark R Prausnitz
  2. Department of Chemical Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 77 Massachusetts Ave., Room E25-342, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02139-4307, USA.

    • Robert Langer

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Competing interests

M.R.P. serves on the scientific advisory board of Apogee Technology and Transport Pharmaceuticals. These companies have transdermal drug delivery products under development. He is also serving as an expert witness in a number of cases involving litigation associated with transdermal fentanyl patches. He is an inventor on a number of patents having to do with transdermal drug delivery technologies, including microneedles, eletroporation and thermal ablation. R.L. is a director of Echo Therapeutics.

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https://doi.org/10.1038/nbt.1504

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