Scared of needles? Here’s some good news: in the future, you might be able to rub a vaccination into your skin.
Researchers at the University of Auckland have found a way to deliver medicines through skin, which is usually an impervious barrier.
“It’s like wearing a raincoat – it stops the water getting in, we go out in the rain and we don’t melt, stops all those nasty chemicals getting through our skin most of the time,” says Dr Dareen Svirskis, senior pharmacy lecturer.
“This is potentially a breakthrough peptide technology,” says Professor Julia Kennedy, head of Auckland University’s School of Pharmacy. “Obtaining a biological response from applying substances through the skin is very difficult to achieve and approaches can be extremely expensive.”
For the past four years senior pharmacy lecturer Zimei Wu has been supervising research by PhD candidate Travis Badenhorst, with the assistance of Dr Svirskis. Dr Svirskis says their breakthrough allows drugs to be delivered directly to cells through the skin.
“What Zimei’s envisaged is to develop this tiny little nano formulation, these tiny little nano carriers. We can put the peptide inside that, and what’s amazing is that we’ve seen for the first time that it can be delivered to the skin, it’ll pass through the skin and it’ll be taken up in cells.
“We’ve seen this in cell cultures for the first time biologically, and we’ve seen this in human skin as well.”
The research was financially backed by the Government and Auckland-based skincare company Snowberry, which has applied for a patent on the process.
And there’s a good reason a cosmetics company backed the research – Dr Svirskis says the technology is perfect for anti-aging products, and outperformed every existing commercial product they compared it to during testing.
“The cosmetic route’s a lot faster to get a product to people. When we start talking about medical devices or vaccine delivery, then yes, there’s years of testing they have to go through to ensure the safety and efficacy of these products.”
The Latest on: Peptide technology
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