Continuous drug release by sea anemone Nematostella vectensis stinging microcapsules

Yossi Tal, Ari Ayalon, Agnesa Sharaev, Zoya Kazir, Vera Brekhman, Tamar Lotan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Transdermal delivery is an attractive option for drug delivery. Nevertheless, the skin is a tough barrier and only a limited number of drugs can be delivered through it. The most difficult to deliver are hydrophilic drugs. The stinging mechanism of the cnidarians is a sophisticated injection system consisting of microcapsular nematocysts, which utilize built-in high osmotic pressures to inject a submicron tubule that penetrates and delivers their contents to the prey. Here we show, for the first time, that the nematocysts of the starlet sea anemone Nematostella vectensis can be isolated and incorporated into a topical formulation for continuous drug delivery. We demonstrate quantitative delivery of nicotinamide and lidocaine hydrochloride as a function of microcapsular dose or drug exposure. We also show how the released submicron tubules can be exploited as a skin penetration enhancer prior to and independently of drug application. The microcapsules are non-irritant and may offer an attractive alternative for hydrophilic transdermal drug delivery.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)734-745
Number of pages12
JournalMarine Drugs
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2014


  • Cnidocyst
  • Diffusion cell
  • Hydrophilic drug
  • Nematostella vectensis
  • Transdermal

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Drug Discovery


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