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Medicine Science

Ultrasound Waves For Transdermal Drug Delivery 32

Posted by Soulskill
from the still-waiting-on-my-hypospray dept.
An anonymous reader writes with news of research from MIT, where engineers have found a better way to use ultrasound waves to boost the permeability of skin for the delivery of drugs. "Ultrasound — sound waves with frequencies greater than the upper limit of human hearing — can increase skin permeability by lightly wearing away the top layer of the skin, an effect that is transient and pain-free. ... When ultrasound waves travel through a fluid, they create tiny bubbles that move chaotically. Once the bubbles reach a certain size, they become unstable and implode. Surrounding fluid rushes into the empty space, generating high-speed 'microjets' of fluid that create microscopic abrasions on the skin. In this case, the fluid could be water or a liquid containing the drug to be delivered. In recent years, researchers working to enhance transdermal drug delivery have focused on low-frequency ultrasound, because the high-frequency waves don’t have enough energy to make the bubbles pop. However, those systems usually produce abrasions in scattered, random spots across the treated area. In the new study (abstract), the MIT team found that combining high and low frequencies offers better results. The high-frequency ultrasound waves generate additional bubbles, which are popped by the low-frequency waves."
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Ultrasound Waves For Transdermal Drug Delivery

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  • by ColdWetDog (752185) on Saturday September 15, 2012 @11:41AM (#41346227) Homepage

    Just for a bit of background.

    Sonophoresis [wikipedia.org] (or Phonophoresis) is a older technology that sort of works. Hasn't make much in the way of clinical inroads because of a number of problems [nih.gov]. This work may overcome some of that although having to go to a physical therapist (typically) to get some drug stuffed in your body is typically more trouble that it's worth.

    The most common use for this technique is to push steroids to a localized area (such as along a tendon) instead of giving the drug in a pill and having it diffuse through the entire body or using multiple, painful injections. Sort of works.

    • by wwphx (225607)
      I so hope this becomes a marketed product soon! I do two subcutaneous infusions a week, four needles in my abdomen for about an hour a session and will be doing so for the rest of my life. This would be SO sweet!
    • Re:Already got one. (Score:5, Interesting)

      by BoRegardless (721219) on Saturday September 15, 2012 @01:07PM (#41346755)

      What I am interested in is whether the ultrasound modifies the chemicals being transported -- injected???

      Ultrasonic bubbles can create implosions that raise temperatures into the range of thousands of degrees farenheit.

      Ultrasonics are routinely used to bond plastics as a result of the temperatures induced.

      The question comes down to whether you destroy or modify the molecules you want to deliver...however slightly. Needles don't do that.

      • by jbeaupre (752124)

        The summary gets some details very wrong. Intense ultrasound can create cavitation bubbles, but nothing of that intensity is used for drug delivery. It that were to happen, it would kill living cells. So, no bubbles, no implosions, none of that stuff.

        At the lower levels used, ultrasound strains the cells, creating small openings between cells and in cell membranes. Skin becomes "leaky."

      • There is a research team which came up with something similar (I think), their product should be in the markets next year already:
        "A laser syringe being developed in Portugal should be on the market within a year":
        http://www.innovationtoronto.com/2012/07/needleless-syringe-invention-on-market-within-a-year/ [innovationtoronto.com]

        I don't understand much about it but it looks like both ideas (ultrasound and laser) use the same technique (changing skin permiability) to deliver the payload.

      • by TheSwift (2714953)
        Ultrasounds are routinely used to look at human organ systems to evaluate for disease processes. The technology is extremely well-researched and it is considered significantly safer than CT scans or X-rays since it lacks the radiation and has an apparent lack of risks. The ultrasound isn't being done when the medication is administered to the patient's skin. The transdermal medication would be given after the ultrasound treatment has already removed the top layer of skin, therefore there would be no possib
  • by yincrash (854885) on Saturday September 15, 2012 @11:49AM (#41346255)
    Woooooo. Sci-Fi gone real! Please tell me it makes the same sound too.
  • by reboot246 (623534) on Saturday September 15, 2012 @11:50AM (#41346263) Homepage
    I'd bet this method wouldn't work for dogs.
  • This would surely be a godsend to anyone with a phobia of sharp objects, like hypodermic needles.
  • by AnotherAnonymousUser (972204) on Saturday September 15, 2012 @12:09PM (#41346385)
    I realize Google is my friend in this, but I'd love to hear from insider perspective what sort of advances are actually *in use* in clinics and hospitals these days. About 10-15 years ago I used to read in Pop Sci about the innovations in needle technology - serrating the edge like a mosquito, using thinner needles, new kinds of shots, and using these painless, efficient methods of delivering vaccines and medicine. What of those actually panned out? It's been about 10 years since I've received a vaccination; did any of those technologies we read about 10 years ago make it into the field?
    • Nope, still standard stuff.
      By the way, if it has been 10 years, it is now time to do the next booster (diphteria/tetanus/pertussis if in USA, add polio for Europe).

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by TheSwift (2714953)
      I'm a pre-med student and I work for physicians in an emergency department. I've seen several pretty nifty innovations for administering IV's. In pediatric hospitals, they often use air-pressure needle-free methods of starting IV's and administering medications. To be honest, I'm not sure how they work, but they do exist and instead of having a metallic needle in your arm, it is tough, but malleable plastic. They aren't generally used mainstream in most hospitals yet, especially not in the ER. My guess is
  • This is good (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 15, 2012 @01:01PM (#41346711)

    I read a few weeks ago that a group trying to kill cancer mated an ultrasound machine with an MRI. They targeted the cancer with the MRI, and blasted it (in 3 dimensions) with the ultrasound. Ultrasound makes cancer tumors 'fragile'. They are far more prone and are profoundly more affected by chemotherapy than they would be otherwise. What do I mean by that? Normally after 6 weeks of chemotherapy, a tumor might shrink by 30%. After the MRI/ultrasound and a single dose of chemotherapy, the tumor might shrink by 50% (in rough and general terms, they did multiple tests on multiple patients and these are generated averages). Its like 'it just isn't for the epidermis, but can be used to make the cancer tumor 'skin' more prone and able to absorb the chemo coctail more easily, making the treatment more effective, leaving less chemo cocktail in the rest of the body, meaning the tumor suffers the worst, and surrounding tissue is affected less.

  • I'd be kinda leery of this one. It's long been known that ultrasound in liquids can lead to the formation of free radicals. I'd think that this could potentially lead to a variety of nasty side effects including DNA damage.

  • Will this become vaporware like the ultrasound technology to remineralize tooth structures that came out from U of Alberta at Edmonton about a decade ago? Ultrasound mayby be a major yet under-realized(suppressed?) discipline of physical molecular creation, or in this case destruction. I'm not going to hold my breath, not even for one or two peer reproduced small mammal studies.

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