11 August 2021
Drug absorption through the skin: The LEO Foundation Center for Cutaneous Drug Delivery strives to understand and overcome the skin barrier to enhance the uptake of drugs into the skin – with the goal of improving the treatment of skin diseases. The center has just been given a boost by a major grant of DKK 15 million from the LEO Foundation.
The skin constitutes an excellent protective barrier between the human body and the external environment. One of its most important functions is to regulate what enters the body via the skin – but this function is also the main challenge to drug absorption into and through the skin. Incomplete drug uptake frequently reduces the effects of treatments for skin diseases such as atopic dermatitis and psoriasis.
A new grant of DKK 15 million will enable the LEO Foundation Center for Cutaneous Drug Delivery (LFCCDD) at the Department of Pharmacy, University of Copenhagen to further strengthen its research on how drug permeation into and through the skin can be enhanced for improved treatment outcome.
“The new grant boosts ongoing research in the center and will allow us to take a big step in the direction of understanding how we can make pharmaceutical formulations against skin diseases work better by improving their skin uptake. It is an outstanding opportunity to work focused in this direction,” says Martin Malmsten, Director at the LEO Foundation Center for Cutaneous Drug Delivery.
A physicochemical approach for improved therapeutics
The grant from the LEO Foundation will be used by LFCCDD to carry out seven new PhD projects addressing key elements for overcoming the skin barrier.
All seven projects focus on how pharmaceutical products can be rationally designed for efficient and safe drug delivery, based on physicochemical approaches related to permeation driving forces, skin hydration, and solubilization of skin lipids. The research also addresses the biological consequences of improved skin uptake such as possible side-effects of the drug and of formulation components.
“The research focuses on pharmaceuticals that the patients can administer themselves at home, in particular within infection and inflammation. The aim is that the research should provide knowledge that can be used to develop improved pharmaceutical products which can contribute, e.g., to combatting severe infections or dampen or prevent recurring inflammation, which characterizes both atopic dermatitis and psoriasis, and makes the handling of the disease difficult for the patient,” says Martin Malmsten.
A focal point for drug delivery research
Ida Brams, Chief Grant Officer at the LEO Foundation is looking forward to following the center’s strengthened research efforts.
”At the LEO Foundation we are happy to support the LFCCDD’s efforts to understand and overcome the skin barrier and the processes relevant for efficient and safe drug delivery through the skin. By building on existing research activities, expertise and strengths, the center has great potential to become an international focal point for drug delivery research,” she says.
The LEO Foundation Center for Cutaneous Drug Delivery was established in 2017 based on a 10-year grant of DKK 40 million from the LEO Foundation. The new DKK 15 million grant adds to the previous grant.