Brazil Research Group Testing Topical Treatment Strategy for Skin Cancer

In Brazil, researchers are testing a technique on mice that could possibly treat skin cancer. The technique involves applying a low-intensity unidirectional current that allows chemical substances to penetrate the skin and then enter the bloodstream through the electric field.

Preliminary results of the study showed cancer-induced mice that received the formulation containing nano-encapsulated chemotherapy combined with iontophoresis showed a significantly greater reduction in the size of a tumor. Iontophoresis is a technique with many uses, but was first introduced as a treatment for excessive sweating over 50 years ago.

Renata Fonseca Vianna Lopez, who supervises the Thematic Project supported by Sao Paulo Research Foundation, explains, “One of the challenges involved in this type of topical treatment is ensuring that the drug penetrates the stratum corneum. It is an important tissue barrier against the entry of microorganisms, but it also makes it more difficult for medicines to penetrate.”

In choosing to place the chemotherapeutic agent inside nanoparticles, Dr. Lopez hopes the drug will not only penetrate the tissue to get into the bloodstream, but that it becomes concentrated in the area that requires the treatment.

The research was conducted by inducing the formation of a tumor in mice. The tumor was associated with squamous cell carcinoma, one of the most common types of skin cancer.

The treatment was then conducted using a formulation containing chemotherapy agent 5-fluorouracil encapsulated in a nanoparticle. One group of mice received the formulation through subcutaneous injections and the other group received in through topical application along with iontophoresis.

In another study, Dr. Lopez’s group used a stiffer version of polymeric nanoparticle, which contained anti-inflammatory dexamethasone associated with iontophoresis used for treatment of the inflammation of eye tissue.

Currently, the group is planning to test a method that uses iontophoresis for the treatment of chronic wounds.

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Dr. Lopez explained, “In this case, we are not dealing with the stratum corneum barrier. We use iontophoresis to assess its influence on the release of the substance of interest in a formulation, and to investigate its effect on the growth of microorganisms.”

Dr. Lopez further said that preliminary results suggest the the use of iontophoresis treatment methods stop the proliferation of some types of microorganisms that could aggravate wounds.

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