The innovative transdermal delivery system boasts shorter fabrication time and commercial scalability

From the FMS Global News Desk of Jeanne Hambleton Released: 5-Sep-2014
Source: National University of Singapore Citations Molecular Pharmaceutics


Newswise — Individuals who are squeamish about injections or are looking for a way to let collagen penetrate deeper into the skin may soon have a solution that is faster, more effective and painless. The key lies in a small adhesive patch topped with minuscule needles that is pioneered by researchers from the National University of Singapore (NUS).

The research team, led by Dr Kang Lifeng of the Department of Pharmacy at the NUS Faculty of Science, has successfully developed a simple technique to encapsulate lidocaine, a common painkiller, or collagen in the tiny needles attached to an adhesive patch. When applied to the skin, the microneedles deliver the drug or collagen rapidly into the skin without any discomfort to the user.

This innovation could be used clinically to administer painkiller non-invasively to patients, or in home care settings for patients suffering from conditions such as diabetes and cancer. In addition, the novel transdermal delivery system could also be used for cosmetic and skincare purposes to deliver collagen to inner skin layers.

Non-invasive delivery of drugs for effective pain relief

Faster delivery of painkillers is key to effective management of acute and chronic pain conditions. Currently, such drugs are mainly administered through invasive injections, or through the use of conventional transdermal patches, which may have limited efficiency due to variability of drug absorption among individuals.

To address the clinical gap, Dr Kang, together with Dr Jaspreet Singh Kochhar, who had recently graduated from NUS with a doctorate degree in Pharmacy, and their team members, used a photolithography based process to fabricate a novel transdermal patch with polymeric microneedles. The tiny needles are encapsulated with lidocaine, a common painkiller known for its pain-relief property.

Laboratory experiments showed that the novel microneedles patch can deliver lidocaine within five minutes of application while a commercial lidocaine patch takes 45 minutes for the drug to penetrate into the skin. The shorter time for drug delivery is made possible as the miniature needles on the patch create micrometre-sized porous channels in the skin to deliver the drug rapidly. As the needle shafts are about 600 micro-meters in length, they do not cause any perceivable pain on the skin.

The patch also comprises a reservoir system to act as channels for drugs to be encapsulated in backing layers, circumventing the premature closure of miniaturised pores created by the microneedles. This facilitates continued drug permeation. In addition, the size of patch could be easily adjusted to encapsulate different drug dosages.

By delivering painkillers faster into the body through the skin, patients could potentially experience faster pain relief. In addition, enabling a larger amount of lidocaine to permeate through the skin could potentially reduce the time needed to apply the patch and this reduces the likelihood of patients developing skin irritation.

This novel technique was first reported in the scientific journal Molecular Pharmaceutics.

Enabling deeper penetration of collagen into the skin

To expand their research on potential applications of the microneedles patch, the NUS team conducted a study to explore its effectiveness in delivering collagen into skin.

The researchers encapsulated collagen in the microneedles and tested the transdermal delivery of collagen using the novel technique. They found that collagen can be delivered up to the dermis layer of the skin, while current skincare products can only deliver to the outermost layer of skin.

The findings of this study were first published earlier this year in the scientific journal Pharmaceutical Research.

Further research to expand application of novel microneedles patch

As their novel technique for drug delivery is non-invasive and easy to use, the NUS team envisioned that the microneedles patch has great potential for applications in clinical and home care settings for the management of perioperative pain and chronic pain in patients suffering from conditions like diabetes and cancer.

The innovative patch could also have paediatric applications. Dr Kang explained, “One prospective application is during vaccination for babies. The patch can be applied on the baby’s arm five minutes before the jab, for the painkiller to set in. In this way, vaccination can potentially be painless for babies.”

The research team intends to conduct clinical testing of the painkiller patch to further ascertain its effectiveness for clinical applications. They will also be conducting clinical studies to examine the efficacy of delivering collagen for cosmetic and skincare purposes.

Recognising that their novel transdermal delivery system is easy to fabricate and commercially scalable, the research team is also keen to work with industry partners to commercialise their work.

The researchers have filed a patent for their technique through the NUS Industry Liaison Office, which is part of NUS Enterprise.



“Prevention is better than cure”

From the FMS Global News Desk of Jeanne Hambleton Released: 8-Sep-2014
Source Newsroom: Saint Louis University Medical Center

Vaccine Research PIC. DanielHoft

Daniel Hoft, M.D., Ph.D., is director of the division of infectious diseases, allergy and immunology at Saint Louis University. Last September, the NIH selected SLU’s Center for Vaccine Development as one of an elite group of nine centers to study vaccines that protect public health. The vaccine center has been funded by the NIH for 25 years.

Newswise — ST. LOUIS — Saint Louis University researchers are attacking influenza on multiple fronts as they search for a universal vaccine that protects people from the flu virus that often mutates year to year with deadly consequences.

Their progress, as well as the efforts of other researchers in SLU’s Center for Vaccine Development who are working to protect people from different infectious diseases, is chronicled in the July/August issue of Missouri Medicine, which focuses on vaccine research.

“As evidenced by the current Ebola outbreak, there are no other potential world health problems that threaten massive death and illness as much as infectious diseases. Some of medicine’s greatest triumphs have been in the field of vaccine development,” said John C. Hagan III, M.D., editor of Missouri Medicine.

“As an internationally known research facility it was natural for Missouri Medicine: The Journal of the Missouri State Medicine to invite the Center for Vaccine Development at Saint Louis University Medical Center to prepare the theme scientific articles for our July/August 2014 issue.”

Formed at SLU 25 years ago and continuously funded by the National Institutes of Health, the Center of Vaccine Development has been instrumental in developing numerous vaccines that protect public health including the FLUMist nasal spray influenza vaccine and vaccines against smallpox and other potential biological weapons post 9/11. The Center for Vaccine Development also was one of the leaders on national research into an H1N1 influenza vaccine, used to protect people from the pandemic that swept the nation in 2009.

Through the years, scientists at the center also have worked on vaccines for tuberculosis, herpes simplex, hepatitis C, Dengue, pneumonia, meningitis and pertussis. They have conducted more than 100 clinical trials that have enrolled about 7,000 community volunteers.

During the last quarter century, their work has received more than $150 million in funding from various NIH contracts and grants as well as funding from multinational foundations. SLU’s Center for Vaccine Development expects to receive an additional $50 to $75 million by 2023 from its recent contract as a federally funded Vaccine and Treatment Evaluation Unit (VTEU).

In the July/August issue of Missouri Medicine, SLU researchers described their work to prevent several serious infectious diseases. Here is a link to their articles.

Influenza: Thousands of U.S. residents – typically those who are elderly, young children and pregnant women — die of complications of the flu every year. In addition, an influenza pandemic hits middle-aged and younger adults harder than those of other ages.

“Influenza remains a major problem causing significant illness and death annually. In addition, periodic pandemics present the potential for 10 to 100 fold increased mortality,” write Daniel Hoft, M.D., Ph.D., director of the division of infectious diseases, allergy and immunology at SLU, and Robert Belshe, M.D., director of SLU’s Center for Vaccine Development. “The Saint Louis University Center for Vaccine Development is highly engaged in multiple efforts to generate universally relevant influenza vaccines.”

The Center for Vaccine Development is working on several types of flu vaccines. For instance, a two part vaccine potentially primes the body for infection with molecules from one influenza virus and enhances its ability to fight flu by boosting with molecules from a different influenza virus. Another vaccine uses two inactivated parts of a virus that the body had not seen to induce immunity against infection with a new strain of influenza. Vaccines are designed to induce broad antibodies that neutralize the virus. And new vaccines being tested have the potential to marshal infection-fighting T cell proteins into action to battle a new flu strain.

Tuberculosis: The bacteria that causes tuberculosis infects one-third of the world’s population and between one and two million people die of complications from tuberculosis each year. The current Bacillus Calmette-Guerin (BCG) tuberculosis vaccine protects most children from death and the most severe complications from TB.

However the vaccine does not reliably prevent TB infection and lung-related TB disease in adults.

“Improved TB vaccines are urgently needed,” writes Hoft. “Increasing rates of resistance to drugs that treat TB threaten to render all of our current regimens useless and the HIV pandemic has greatly amplified the risks of TB infection, transmission and disease progression.”

Partially backed by the Aeras Foundation, which is supported in part from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, SLU’s Center for Vaccine Development has studied several vaccine approaches to protect against TB. These include oral and nasal spray versions of the current BCG vaccine, new vaccines that rev up T cells to induce immunity against TB and a vaccine that uses an adenovirus to deliver an antigen causing the body to produce antibodies and T cells that fight TB. In addition, Hoft is researching a new vaccine testing process in hopes of identifying strategies to accelerate the search for new and effective tuberculosis vaccines.

Smallpox: Although smallpox has been eliminated through vaccination, the U.S. government is concerned that the virus that causes the deadly disease could intentionally be used as a bioterror weapon. SLU’s Center for Vaccine Development has been on the forefront of smallpox vaccine research.

Sharon Frey, M.D., clinical director of the Center for Vaccine Development, led research published in 2002 that showed the government’s store of existing Dryvax smallpox vaccine could be diluted to protect 10 times more people. Since that time, Frey has studied new vaccines for smallpox that appear to offer similar protection to Dryvax, which have been added to the national strategic stockpile of medicines to protect the American public.

“Immunoinformatics and systems biology will provide newer tools for the development of new smallpox vaccines,” Frey writes. “Saint Louis University continues to participate in NIH-funded smallpox and other important biodefense vaccine studies.”

Dengue: At least half the world’s population is at risk for dengue virus, which is spread by the Aedes mosquito. Up to 390 million people worldwide are infected with dengue virus each year, about 100 million develop dengue fever and 22,000 die.

Five dengue vaccines currently are being tested in humans. “Dengue vaccine development has advanced considerably in the past 10 years and it is hoped an effective vaccine will be available soon,” writes Sarah George, M.D., assistant professor of infectious diseases, allergy and immunology at SLU. George has conducted two first in-human clinical trials of dengue vaccines at SLU’s Center for Vaccine Development.

Barriers to vaccination: Vaccines prevent diseases and deaths, yet some people are not getting recommended vaccinations. Edwin Anderson, M.D., research professor in infectious diseases at SLU, examined how to address the problem.

“The successful prevention of severe infectious diseases by vaccination is without question. Despite this success, there is room for improvement among adults and children,” Anderson writes.

While vaccinations have prevented more than 100 million cases of eight contagious diseases, there have been resurgences of measles, rubella, mumps and pertussis – illnesses for which we have vaccines.

Among Anderson’s multiple suggestions to improve vaccination rates: physicians must play a key role in dispelling misconceptions parents might have in vaccinating their children and clearly communicate with parents and office medical staff that vaccines should be timed according to published guidelines. In addition, doctors should discuss vaccinations with adult patients to educate them and simplify procedures to make it easier to get vaccines.

Established in 1836, Saint Louis University School of Medicine has the distinction of awarding the first medical degree west of the Mississippi River. The school educates physicians and biomedical scientists, conducts medical research, and provides health care on a local, national and international level. Research at the school seeks new cures and treatments in five key areas: infectious disease, liver disease, cancer, heart/lung disease, and aging and brain disorders.

In publication since 1904, Missouri Medicine is a peer-reviewed, indexed, award-winning medical journal printed on acid-free paper. The journal has content linked with PUBMED CENTRAL and is included in MEDLINE and EBSCOhost data bases.



Inspired by the Compound Eyes of Common Fly, Penn State Researchers Determine How to Make Miniature Omnidirectional Sources of Light and Optical Sensors

From FMS Global News Desk of Jeanne Hambleton Embargoed: 9-Sep-2014
Source: American Institute of Physics (AIP) Citations Applied Physics Letters


Newswise — WASHINGTON D.C., September 9, 2014 – In our vain human struggle to kill flies, our hands and swatters often come up lacking. This is due to no fault of our own, but rather to flies’ compound eyes. Arranged in a hexagonal, convex pattern, compound eyes consist of hundreds of optical units called ommatidia, which together bestow upon flies a nearly 360-degree field of vision. With this capability in mind, a team of researchers at Pennsylvania State University is drawing on this structure to create miniature light-emitting devices and optical sensors.

“We were inspired by those eyes,” said Raúl J. Martín-Palma, an adjunct professor of Materials Science and Engineering at Pennsylvania State University. “We said, ‘OK, we can make something artificial using the same replicating structure to emit light in all directions, rather than what we have now, which is just planar, light-emitting diodes.’” Martín-Palma has been involved in work with ‘bioinspiration,’ in which ideas and concepts from nature are implemented in different fields of science and engineering, for the past seven years. He and fellow researchers describe their work in the journal Applied Physics Letters, which is produced by AIP Publishing.

Theoretical analysis of the compound eyes’ optical properties was complicated by the ommaditias’ nanonipples, 200-nanometer, tapered projections whose minute size make simulated calculations nearly impossible, due to its unpredictable scattering of light.

“It is much easier to just go ahead and fabricate the actual device and see what happens,” Martín-Palma said. So they did.

To test the structure’s light-scattering properties, the researchers extracted corneas from blow flies and coated them with a 900-nm-thick layer of tris(8-hydroxyquinolinato)aluminum, a well-known fluorescent polymer. They then induced the modified surface to emit visible light by exposing it to diffuse ultraviolet light.

When compared to a similarly coated flat surface, the modified ommatidia demonstrated a lesser angular dependence of emission, meaning that they tended to scatter light more uniformly in all directions.

“By coating the eyes, we were able to have a better light emission, or a better angular distribution of light emission,” Martín-Palma said.

This increased emission and angular distribution means that the pattern of the fly’s cornea could soon be adapted into extremely minute light-emitting diodes and detectors, which would be able to process light output and input from a staggeringly wide field of vision.

While the corneas used in the experiment were taken from fruit flies, Martín-Palma and his colleagues do not advocate the mass harvesting of flies to create light sources.

“We have already developed a technique to mass-replicate biotemplates at the nanoscale, including compound eyes of insects,” Martín-Palma said. “So now when we want to make 100 bioreplicated eyes, we don’t have to kill 50 flies. We can make multiple copies out of one template.”

The next step in Martín-Palma’s research is to expand the coating procedure to include other species’ compound eyes, in order to identify the optimal structure for omni-directional light emission. Future work also includes fabricating a light-emitting diode in the shape of a compound eye, and ultimately creating omni-directional light detectors.

Applied Physics Letters features concise, rapid reports on significant new findings in applied physics. The journal covers new experimental and theoretical research on applications of physics phenomena related to all branches of science, engineering, and modern technology




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