Pioneering, cost-effective technique developed to visualise drug delivery


BioPharmX researchers were part of a national scientific team that developed an innovative way to use nonlinear optical imaging to confirm the efficiency and quantity of the delivery of new drugs

Skin cells visualised with a traditional optical microscope

A presentation at the 2017 Fall Clinical Dermatology Conference will show how researchers from BioPharmX and the Wellman Center for Photomedicine, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School used a suite of imaging techniques in what is called Pharmacokinetic Tomography to confirm highly localised delivery of BPX-01, BioPharmX’s unique topical, hydrophilic gel formulation of minocycline for the treatment of acne vulgaris, to the area of the skin where acne develops.

This is the first time this imaging approach was used to confirm substantial minocycline uptake in the epidermis and hair follicle, as well as in the sebaceous gland 24 hours after a single dose application. 

A poster presentation, entitled “Visualization of Cutaneous Distribution of Minocycline of a Topical Gel in Human Facial Skin with Two-Photon Excited Fluorecence Lifetime Imaging Microscopy (FLIM) and Phasor Analysis,” will also be on display at the Fall Clinical conference in Las Vegas 12-15 October.

The technique is a break with traditional drug development imaging processes that are costly and inefficient. The nonlinear optical imaging technique developed by this team enables the use of the natural fluorescence of the drug when ‘excited’ with ultrashort (femtosecond) laser pulses.

Drug developers traditionally rely on older technologies, such as nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy and mass spectroscopy (MALDI), which tend to be slow and costly. This technique has allowed BioPharmX to capitalise its efforts in translational research, enabling it to take BPX-01 into clinic much more rapidly.

Dr Conor L. Evans, Assistant Professor at Harvard Medical School’s Wellman Center for Photomedicine at Massachusetts General Hospital, said: “We are excited to be applying these imaging tools in the study of pharmacokinetics. They enable the visualisation of drug delivery and distribution, and potentially permit the quantification of local drug concentration with sub-cellular resolution. Knowing the delivery kinetics and local concentrations of drugs may allow better understanding of toxicity and efficacy of drugs, making these imaging methods powerful tools for translational research.”

In addition, BioPharmX will be presenting a second poster entitled, “Rapid Improvement with BPX-01 Minocycline Topical Gel in the Treatment of Moderate-to-Severe Inflammatory Acne Vulgaris: a Randomized, Double-Blind, Vehicle-Controlled Study,” showing that BPX-01 2% minocycline gel resulted in “rapid improvements and better outcomes than vehicle control in treatments of moderate-to-severe non-nodular inflammatory acne.”

Dr Neal Bhatia, member of the BioPharmX Therapeutic Dermatology Advisory Board, said: “In combination, these studies suggest that BPX-01 effectively delivers low dosages of minocycline precisely to areas of the skin where acne forms and that the topical gel may prove to be an efficient option for reducing the number of inflammatory lesions.”

The Fall Clinical conference is one of the dermatological community’s leading educational events, attracting more than 800 physicians and scientists from across the nation.

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