Emerging strategies for the transdermal delivery of peptide and protein drugs

Expert Opin Drug Deliv. 2005 May;2(3):533-48. doi: 10.1517/17425247.2.3.533.


Transdermal delivery has been at the forefront of research addressing the development of non-invasive methods for the systemic administration of peptide and protein therapeutics generated by the biotechnology revolution. Numerous approaches have been suggested for overcoming the skin's formidable barrier function; whereas certain strategies simply act on the drug formulation or transiently increase the skin permeability, others are designed to bypass or even remove the outermost skin layer. This article reviews the technologies currently under investigation, ranging from those in their early-stage of development, such as laser-assisted delivery to others, where feasibility has already been demonstrated, such as microneedle systems, and finally more mature techniques that have already led to commercialisation (e.g., velocity-based technologies). The principles, mechanisms involved, potential applications, limitations and safety considerations are discussed for each approach, and the most advanced devices in each field are described.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Cutaneous
  • Biological Availability
  • Drug Delivery Systems / instrumentation
  • Drug Delivery Systems / methods*
  • Peptides / administration & dosage*
  • Peptides / pharmacokinetics
  • Proteins / administration & dosage*
  • Proteins / pharmacokinetics
  • Skin Absorption


  • Peptides
  • Proteins