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Liposome-based depot injection technologies

How versatile are they?


Liposomes have proven to be versatile carriers for the delivery of drugs. These carriers are biocompatible, since they are generally made from lipids commonly found in biologic systems and are biodegradable by the usual metabolic pathways. A sustained drug delivery system is useful when the efficacy of drugs is limited by the inability to maintain therapeutic concentrations. Furthermore, a depot delivery system can offer important advantages in the clinic, such as significantly reducing dose frequency and providing efficacy without toxicity. Because of their small size (<5μ.m), conventional liposomes (unilamellar and multilamellar) are limited in their ability to provide depot delivery of drugs when administered subcutaneously or intramuscularly. The small size of these liposomes results in relatively fast clearance from the injection site and a short duration of delivery, typically 1–4 days. Multivesicular liposomes (MVLs) are distinct from conventional liposomes in composition, structure, and size and are the only class of commercial liposomes that have demonstrated depot delivery of both small molecule and protein/peptide drugs. These MVLs are characterized by the presence of a continuous bilayer membrane, with numerous internal aqueous compartments that are contiguous and separated by bilayer septums. As a result of their larger size (median diameter typically 10–30μ.m), these MVLs are not rapidly cleared by tissue macrophages and can act as a drug depot providing slow release of drugs delivered through different routes of administration. Moreover, the biocompatibility and biodegradability of the MVL lipid matrix allows for the sustained delivery of drugs to sensitive areas. The unique architecture of MVLs provides high drug loading of water-soluble drugs, reasonable stability during storage, and control over the drug-release rate. Furthermore, the lipid composition of MVLs can be altered to deliver therapeutics over periods ranging from a few days to a month, in order to meet specific therapeutic needs. The capability of altering the rate of drug release from MVLs by varying the lipid composition provides a great deal of versatility for controlled delivery of a wide variety of therapeutics. This article reviews depot delivery with conventional liposomes, demonstrates through several examples the sustained depot delivery of small and macromolecular drugs using MVLs, and summarizes some novel delivery systems that combine liposomes with polymeric matrices and have the potential to expand the platform of liposomal depot delivery.

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The author thanks the following people from her department: Dr Mysore Ramprasad, Melissa Langston, and John Asherman. The depo-leridistim and depo-progenipoietin projects were collaborations with Pharmacia Corporation, Skokie, IL, USA, and the depo-IGF-I project was a collaboration with Chiron Corporation, Emeryville, CA, USA.

The author has provided no information on sources of funding or conflicts of interest directly relevant to the content of this manuscript.

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Correspondence to Nandini V. Katre.

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At the time of preparation of this article Dr Katre was employed by SkyePharma Inc., San Diego, CA, USA; however, her current place of employment is Katre Consulting, Solana Beach, CA, USA.

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Katre, N.V. Liposome-based depot injection technologies. Am J Drug Deliv 2, 213–227 (2004).

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