Drug Delivery Without Needles

ChEMS Seminar

Featuring Samir Mitragotri
Department of Chemical Engineering
University of California, Santa Barbara

Location: CS 174
*Refreshments will be served after seminar

Transdermal drug delivery offers a non-invasive alternative to needles for drug administration. However, skin offers a strong permeation and immunological barrier to drug transport. Accordingly, applications of transdermal drug delivery are limited to only a handful of low-molecular weight lipophilic drugs such as nicotine and estradiol. 

We are investigating novel chemical and physical means of increasing skin permeability to macromolecular drugs. These methods are being developed for the delivery of macromolecules such as insulin for the treatment of diabetes, heparin for the treatment of thromboembolism, and vaccines for immunization. I will present an overview of these methods. I will particularly focus on the use of chemical enhancers, which are surfactant-like molecules that partition into skin and enhance its permeability by fluidization of its lipid bilayers or extraction of its lipids.

We have developed a high throughput method to screen thousands of chemicals and their combinations for safely and reversibly increasing skin permeability. The leading hits from high throughput screening were found to enhance skin permeability to macromolecules. Such methods make up a versatile toolbox for designing novel transdermal therapies that offer a painless alternative to needles.

About the Speaker:
Samir Mitragotri is an associate professor of Chemical Engineering at the University of California, Santa Barbara. He received his Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and was a post-doctoral associate at Harvard-MIT Division of Health Science and Technology before joining UCSB in 2000. His research interests include the development of novel methods of drug delivery, especially painless and patient-friendly alternatives to needle-based methods for administration of therapeutic proteins and vaccines. His group is also working on understanding transport processes in biological systems through experimental and theoretical investigations.