Delivering breast cancer drug through the skin grants disease prevention

Seungpyo Hong

Researchers in Chicago have developed a method by which to deliver a breast cancer-preventing drug through the skin to avoid some of the nasty side effects associated with oral ingestion of the drug.

The common breast cancer treatment endoxifen has been shown to cause hot flashes and vaginal atrophy as well as a higher risk of endometrial cancer and stroke, according to a report from the University of Illinois at Chicago. Used as a "chemoprevention," these side effects have made endoxifen less enticing.

But the encapsulation technique that the research team used--called dendron-based micelles--penetrated the skin without compromising the desired effects of the drug in the breast.

The scientists created micelles less than half the size of normal skin-permeating drugs, which also increases the surface-volume ratio, according to the report. The drug moves a little more slowly through the skin, but the micelle technique allowed the researchers more control over the process. The slow-release system could actually be useful when it comes to preventing breast cancer.

"We found that dendron micelles can achieve sufficient loading, enhanced skin permeation, and controlled release of endoxifen, without losing its efficacy, compared to free endoxifen," lead researcher Seungpyo Hong said in a statement.

"Given that the target recipients are those who have the potential to develop breast cancer, a slow-release system could reduce dosing frequency, which would significantly increase the patient compliance," he added.

- here's the U. of Illinois report