Immediate topical drug delivery by natural submicron injectors

Ari Ayalon, Iris Shichor, Yossi Tal, Tamar Lotan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Transdermal delivery is an attractive but challenging solution for delivery of drugs. The sea anemone possesses a sophisticated injection system, which utilizes built-in high osmotic pressures. The system is folded within microcapsules and upon activation it injects a long, needle-like tubule of submicron diameter that penetrates the target in a fraction of a second. Here we show that this natural injection system can be adapted for active topical drug delivery once it is isolated from the cells, formulated into a topical gel, and uploaded with the desired drug. The formulated injectors retained their physical characteristics and were capable of penetrating the skin, achieving immediate delivery of a hydrophilic compound. We demonstrate quantitative rapid delivery of lidocaine hydrochloride as a function of microcapsular and drug concentrations. The adaptation of natural injectors for drug delivery combines the benefits of short topical application with rapid delivery of physical devices, thereby presenting a promising alternative for transdermal drug delivery.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)147-153
Number of pages7
JournalInternational Journal of Pharmaceutics
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - 31 Oct 2011


  • Cnidocyst
  • Injection
  • Lidocaine hydrochloride
  • Transdermal

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmaceutical Science


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