12:35am Monday 25 May 2020

Novel cellular delivery developed via skin

“This is potentially a break-through peptide technology,” says the head of the University’s School of Pharmacy, Professor Julia Kennedy. “Obtaining a biological response from applying substances through the skin is very difficult to achieve and approaches can be extremely expensive.” 

The novel drug delivery carrier system allows the peptides to be delivered direct to the targeted cells through the skin which is normally seen as a relatively impervious covering and is rarely used for drug delivery.

“This area of research has been notoriously difficult to work in,” she says. “The technology, which is based on a ‘cellular delivery’ approach, is now subject to a patent application by the New Zealand-based skin care company Snowberry that co-sponsored the research.”

The technology has taken four years to develop, led by Dr Zimei Wu from the School of Pharmacy who also supervised research by doctoral student, Travis Badenhorst.  They had scientific support from pharmaceuticals scientist, Dr Darren Svirskis.

“Drs Wu and Svirskis are thrilled with the success of their technology which has demonstrated that highly beneficial peptides have been delivered to skin cells and have been shown to boost collagen and elastin production, in a way it is believed has never been done before”, says Professor Kennedy.  

“It’s exciting that this research has produced a technology that has the potential for wide biological application, such as vaccination delivery through topical application,” she says.

The project started by investigating the physicochemical properties of the wound healing / anti-aging peptide and identifying issues with getting the peptide into the skin. A nano-formulation approach was developed using niosomes to transport the peptide into the skin.

“We were able, in both cell lines and human skin, to see that the nano-formulation transported the peptide into the skin, delivered the payload into the cells and that a biological response was elicited,” says Dr Svirskis.

The first application of this technology has been to incorporate it into a face serum (developed in partnership with Snowberry) and the results of a human trial of this product will be presented in a podium presentation by PhD student,Travis Badenhorst to the World Congress of Dermatology in Vancouver in June this year.

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