Non-invasive transdermal delivery of chemotherapeutic molecules in vivo using superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles

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Background: The skin is both a target and a potential conduit for the delivery of drugs, but its cornified cell layer resists penetration by most molecules. This study investigated the potential of superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles to facilitate the transdermal delivery of anticancer agents. Results: Chemotherapeutic cancer drugs were applied with or without nanoparticles to the skin of hairless mice, and their ability to penetrate the skin was assessed using fluorescence microscopy and tumor growth. Nanoparticles enhanced the penetration of the skin by doxorubicin and 5-fluorouracil as determined by fluorescence microscopy and growth retardation of experimental melanoma in immunocompetent, syngeneic mice. This drug enhancement did not require conjugation or encapsulation of the drugs by the nanoparticles—simple co-administration sufficed. Nanoparticles applied topically to melanomas increased the cytotoxicity and immune cell infiltration induced by co-administered 5-fluorouracil, and also reduced vascularization of the tumors independently of 5-fluorouracil. Conclusion: Correctly formulated superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles can facilitate the chemotherapeutic effectiveness of cytotoxic drugs on skin tumors by both increasing their transdermal penetration and ameliorating host–tumor interactions. This enhancement of skin penetration occurs without the need for conjugation or encapsulation of the co-administered drugs, and so will likely be applicable to other drugs, also.




Raviraj, V., Pham, B. T. T., Kim, B. J., Pham, N. T. H., Kok, L. F., Painter, N., … Lyons, J. G. (2021). Non-invasive transdermal delivery of chemotherapeutic molecules in vivo using superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles. Cancer Nanotechnology, 12(1).

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