Perhaps the greatest barrier to development of the field of transmembrane drug delivery is that only a limited number of drugs are amenable to administration by this route. The highly lipophilic nature and barrier function of the uppermost layer of the skin, the stratum corneum, for example, restricts the permeation of hydrophilic, high molecular weight and charged compounds into the systemic circulation. Other membranes in the human body can also present significant barriers to drug permeation. In order to successfully deliver hydrophilic drugs, and macromolecular agents of interest, including peptides, DNA and small interfering RNA, many research groups and pharmaceutical companies Worldwide are focusing on the use of microporation methods and devices. Whilst there are a variety of microporation techniques, including the use of laser, thermal ablation, electroporation, radiofrequency, ultrasound, high pressure jets, and microneedle technology, they share the common goal of enhancing the permeability of a biological membrane through the creation of transient aqueous transport pathways of micron dimensions across that membrane. Once created, these micropores are orders of magnitude larger than molecular dimensions and, therefore, should readily permit the transport of hydrophilic macromolecules. Additionally, microporation devices also enable minimally-invasive sampling and monitoring of biological fluids. This review deals with the innovations relating to microporation-based methods and devices for drug delivery and minimally invasive monitoring, as disclosed in recent patent literature.
Transdermal drug delivery, minimally invasive monitoring, microporation, thermal ablation, electroportaion, radiofrequency, sonophoresis, jet injection, microneedles
School of Pharmacy, Queens University Belfast, Medical Biology Centre, 97 Lisburn Road, Belfast, BT9 7BL, UK.