We studied the duration of action and permeability of common analgesics and local anesthetics applied dermally via new carriers—transfersomes—in rats and humans. The therapeutic potential of analgesic transfersomes was evaluated in Sprague-Dawley rats subjected to heat and pressure stimuli. Results were compared with those obtained from administration of lidocaine-containing standard liposomes. In rats, subcutaneous injections of 2% lidocaine solution and of liposomal or transfersomal suspension resulted in a strong initial analgesic effect that decayed within 6–7 min. Characteristic withdrawal time is approximately 30 s. Dermally applied analgesic transfersomes, by contrast, increased heat stimulus reaction to >70 s, 130% longer than in controls that received a placebo or a standard aqueous lidocaine solution. In humans, we tested two groups of nine male and female volunteers, aged between 25 and 60 yr, for pain-suppressing activity assessed by the pinprick method. Each subject received a total of 0.5 mL of a transfersomal preparation containing 7% lidocaine or 4% tetracaine over a forearm area of 9 cm. We conclude that the effectiveness of dermally applied anesthetic transfersomes is similar to that of the corresponding subcutaneous injections of similar drug quantities and that optimally designed transfersomes offer a suitable and promising means for the noninvasive treatment of local pain with direct, topical drug application.
Address correspondence to Dr. Cevc, Medizinische Biophysik-Forschungslaboratorien, Urologische Klinik und Poliklinik der Technischen Universitat München, Klinikum r.d. I., Ismaningerstrasse 22, W-8000 Munich 8, E.C.
© 1992 International Anesthesia Research Society