Scientists say that problems with injected treatments for peripheral artery disease (PAD) could be solved by a skin patch hooked up to a battery. Caused by blocked arteries in the leg, PAD can be pretty painful. The treatment includes administering fibroblast growth factors (FGFs), which are proteins that take care of PAD along with other skin conditions. The trouble is, FGFs cannot be taken orally and injections cause other side effects like kidney and eye damage. So, FGFs become a drug-delivery problem in search of a solution.
Swiss researcher Yogeshvar Kalia, writing in the journal Molecular Pharmaceutics, believes he's found an answer in a drug-delivery technology called transdermal iontophoresis. The technique uses a small electric current and is already proven to deliver meds made from small proteins. But nobody knew whether it would work for larger ones like FGFs.
So, Kalia and colleagues tried a couple of experiments--first on pig skin samples, then on human. They zapped the FGFs into the skin and it worked. In fact, four times as much of the medication remained on the skin, and biologically active, than passed through it. That means larger proteins, like FGFs, can be delivered through iontophoresis. This opens up the delivery method for other skin diseases.