'Paintable' chemotherapy shrinks skin tumors in mice
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Skin acts as the first line of defense against pathogens and other harmful material from outside the body. Yet this barrier also excludes some beneficial drugs that could treat skin diseases. Now, researchers have taken the first steps in developing a chemotherapy for melanoma that can be “painted” directly on the skin, rather than injected or taken orally. They report their results in ACS Nano.

According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, melanoma is the deadliest form of cancer because of its tendency to spread, or metastasize, from the skin to other parts of the body. Common treatments include surgery, radiation therapy and intravenous chemotherapy, but these can cause pain or unpleasant side effects. If scientists could find a way to administer chemotherapy through the skin, they could target the treatment directly to the tumor site and possibly avoid side effects. Bingfang He, Ran Mo and colleagues wanted to develop a gel that patients themselves could apply to a skin tumor. But first they had to figure out how to get the therapy to penetrate deep within the skin.

For this purpose, the researchers assembled nanoparticles called “transfersomes,” which consist of a phospholipid bilayer and surfactants that encapsulate drugs or

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