Japan's KSL Co and Kagoshima University have co-developed a method of boosting the efficacy of transdermal drug delivery via the application of ultrasound.
The groups claim that this new technology may lead to dosing a broader range of drugs without the need for injection, as it removes the constraint of only being able to administer agents with very small molecules and high resistance to water solution through the skin barrier.
This could open the door to the delivery of much larger molecules, such as insulin, that currently have to be delivered by injection. Finding a more patient-friendly alternative to injections has consumed tens of millions of the pharmaceutical industry's research dollars, but despite years of research no other drug delivery format for insulin has been approved.
That said, inhaled versions of insulin are in the latter stages of development, and are tipped to become blockbuster drugs with sales in excess of $1 billion if approved.
KSL and Kagoshima University are planning to commercialise the new transdermal delivery technology within the next five years, after determining the optimal frequency of ultrasound that enables high drug absorption without harming the skin, the Nikkei Weekly reports.
The collaborators have already used the technology to deliver a fever-reducing agent across the skin of mice.