Project Lead(s): Anny Fortin
Cutaneous leishmaniasis leads to the development of ulcers and lesions on the skin.
The disease affects 12 million people worldwide, with 1.5 million new cases every year. No effective treatment currently exists.
The project used a permanent make-up (or tattoo) device to provide targeted intra-dermal administration of anti-cutaneous leishmaniasis therapy, concentrating the drug in professional phagocytes, the exclusive replicative niche of the Leishmania parasites.
The tattooing procedure is robust, easy to use, fully hygienic and benefits from decades of development by the cosmetic industry.
The selected drug was oleylphosphocholine (OlPC), an alkylphosphocholine formulated as liposomes of about 100 nm that can be directly used for tattooing.
After showing that the selected drug formulated as liposomes could efficiently reach intracellular parasites when in contact with infected macrophages, the activity of the drug was compared in vivo in mouse models of Old (L. major) and New World (L. mexicana) leishmaniasis in a 10-day treatment model.
Three routes of administration of the same drug formulation were investigated. The tattooing delivery procedure was the most efficacious at both the clinical and parasitological levels.
Data support the idea that the mode of administration of a drug can impact its efficacy, suggesting that drugs already approved for the treatment of cutaneous leishmaniasis could be repositioned to be delivered with a tattoo instrument.
This is the first example of tattoo-mediated drug delivery and could be a new approach for treating skin diseases.
Details of the project were published in Scientific Reports, an open-access journal of the Nature Publishing Group .
The project team are currently exploring opportunities for scale-up funding for clinical trials.