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STAR particles for enhanced topical drug and vaccine delivery

Tadros, AR;Romanyuk, A;Miller, IC;Santiago, A;Noel, RK;O'Farrell, L;Kwong, GA;Prausnitz, MR;

Drug delivery to the skin is highly constrained by the stratum corneum barrier layer1. Here, we developed star-shaped particles, termed STAR particles, to dramatically increase skin permeability. STAR particles are millimeter-scale particles made of aluminum oxide or stainless steel with micron-scale projections designed to create microscopic pores across the stratum corneum. After gentle topical application for 10s to porcine skin ex vivo, delivery of dermatological drugs and macromolecules, including those that cannot be given topically, was increased by 1 to 2 orders of magnitude. In mice treated with topical 5-fluorouracil, use of STAR particles increased the efficacy of the drug in suppressing the growth of subcutaneous melanoma tumors and prolonging survival. Moreover, topical delivery of tetanus toxoid vaccine to mice using STAR particles generated immune responses that were at least as strong as delivery of the vaccine by intramuscular injection, albeit at a higher dose for topical than intramuscular vaccine administration. STAR particles were well tolerated and effective at creating micropores when applied to the skin of human participants. Use of STAR particles provides a simple, low-cost and well-tolerated method for increasing drug and vaccine delivery to the skin and could widen the range of compounds that can be topically administered.