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Breaching the skin barrier - Insights from molecular simulation of model membranes

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

Published

Journal publication date02/2013
JournalAdvanced Drug Delivery Reviews
Journal number2
Volume65
Number of pages14
Pages237-250
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

Breaching the skin's barrier function by design is an important strategy for delivering drugs and vaccines to the body. However, while there are many proposed approaches for reversibly breaching the skin barrier, our understanding of the molecular processes involved is still rudimentary. Molecular simulation offers an unprecedented molecular-level resolution with an ability to reproduce molecular and bulk level properties. We review the basis of the molecular simulation methodology and give applications of relevance to the skin lipid barrier, focusing on permeation of molecules and chemical approaches for breaching the lipid barrier by design. The bulk kinetic model based on Fick's Law describing absorption of a drug through skin has been reconciled with statistical mechanical quantities such as the local excess chemical potential and local diffusion coefficient within the membrane structure. Applications of molecular simulation reviewed include investigations of the structure and dynamics of simple models of skin lipids, calculation of the permeability of molecules in simple model membranes, and mechanisms of action of the penetration enhancers, DMSO, ethanol and oleic acid. The studies reviewed illustrate the power and potential of molecular simulation to yield important physical insights, inform and rationalize experimental studies, and to predict structural changes, and kinetic and thermodynamic quantities.

Bibliographic note

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