Growing Indications for Laser-Assisted Drug Delivery

Human Skin Cell

A new review of laser-assisted drug delivery highlights the potential of laser technology to increase efficacy and reduce side effects of prescription medications. “Laser Assisted Drug Delivery: A Review of An Evolving Technology,” by Lindsay R. Sklar, MD, Christopher T. Burnett, MD, FAAD, Jill S. Waibel, MD, FAAD, Ronald L. Moy, MD, FAAD, and David M. Ozog, MD, FAAD, was published in the April 2014 issue of Lasers in Surgery and Medicine.

According to the authors, “The types of lasers most commonly studied in regards to drug delivery are the carbon dioxide (CO2) and erbium:yttrium-aluminum-garnet (Er:YAG) lasers.” The study summarized the usage of both conventional ablative and fractional ablative modalities for the delivery of phototherapy agents, opioids, lidocaine and a variety of cosmeceutical ingredients.

The researchers found that laser-assisted delivery is potentially safer and faster than oral delivery, has less adverse events, because the physician can uniformly distribute the drugs in microscopic channels directly to the desired level in cutaneous tissue, and is cost effective for the healthcare system.

“We are just now at the forefront of understanding the uses and methods of using lasers and other devices to disrupt our skin surfaces, allowing the penetration of various medications. It is conceivable that one day your arthritis medication could come with a small device that creates microscopic pores in your skin to allow an anti-inflammatory drug applied topically over an arthritic joint to penetrate directly to the targeted area. By skipping the traditional routes such as oral delivery, many side effects may be avoided. These new methods may be combined with nano-technology and delayed release drugs to maximize effects,” said Dr. Ozog.

The majority of studies reviewed by the researchers involved animal models, leading the authors to highlight the need for further studies to “validate the existing research and explore the many additional potential clinical applications," said Dr. Burnett.

Dr. Waibel shared some of the current research being conducted in this arena. “At the Miami Dermatology and Laser Institute we have done laser-assisted delivery clinical studies on corticosteroids, 5-Fluorouracil, Poly-L-lactic Acid, Hyaluronic Acid, Bimatoprost, Timolol and Antibiotics. At the University of Miami my colleagues Dr. Evangelos Badiavas and Professor Stephen Davis have a Department of Defense grant studying the basic science of laser-assisted delivery of stem cells on acute burns in a third-degree burn porcine model. Our grant is “Scars through Laser Assisted Delivery of Stem Cells, Care for the Critically Injured Burn Patient” and we are studying putting fat stem cells, autologous stem cells and allogeneic stem cells down the laser channels to heal skin with very promising results. In addition, we are studying techniques to optimize laser-assisted drug delivery by using accessories, such as the Impact Acoustic wave device, matrices and occlusion,” said Dr. Waibel.

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