Skin cancer is an abnormal growth of skin cells and often develops on areas of the skin exposed to the sun’s rays. Researchers at the University of São Paulo (USP), in Brazil, are testing a technique in mice that combines low-intensity electric current with a formulation containing nanoencapsulated chemotherapy to treat skin cancer.
Applying a low-intensity unidirectional current is one of the ways to ensure that chemical substances penetrate the skin, pushed into the bloodstream through the electric field using a technique known as iontophoresis.
According to preliminary results of the study, cancer-induced mice which received the formulation combined with iontophoresis presented a significantly greater reduction in the size of the tumor than those that received it through injection.
“One of the challenges involved in this type of topical treatment is ensuring that the drug penetrates the stratum corneum – the outermost layer of the epidermis, composed mainly of dead cells. It is an important tissue barrier against the entry of microorganisms, but it also makes it more difficult for medicines to penetrate,” explained Renata Fonseca Vianna Lopez, who supervises the Thematic Project supported by the São Paulo Research Foundation – FAPESP and is also a at the School of Pharmaceutical Sciences of Ribeirão Preto (FCFRP-USP).
In the case of skin cancer, however, the intent is not that the drug penetrates the tissue to get into the bloodstream, but rather that it becomes concentrated in the area below the stratum corneum that requires treatment. This is the reason why, in the study led by Lopez, she chose to place the chemotherapeutic agent inside nanoparticles.