Finch, Catherine Vanessa (2017) Chemical modification of skin mimic systems. Post-Doctoral thesis, The University of Huddersfield.

This thesis investigates the effect of various physical and chemical surface modification methods on the permeation of topically applied pharmaceutical compounds through poly(dimethylsiloxane) (PDMS), a polymer frequently employed as a model barrier in in vitro skin permeation studies. Such studies are essential for safety, risk assessment, and quality control purposes, in addition to assisting in the design and development of efficacious topically applied medicines. The commercial availability, legal status, ease of handling, and the reproducibility of the permeation data associated with polymeric skin mimics renders them an attractive alternative to biological tissue. However, over-predictions of percutaneous absorption observed following the use of such membranes are a significant disadvantage when attempting to obtain quantitative toxicological data. Accordingly, the aims of the work presented in this thesis were to both reduce the permeability of PDMS to pharmaceutical compounds, and to increase correlation between permeation data obtained using the synthetic substitute and data obtained similarly using suitable biological tissue. Primarily, the potential of an air plasma pre-treatment to produce a lamellae-type structure in PDMS, endeavouring to more accurately model the architectural, physical, and chemical properties of the human stratum corneum, was investigated. Reductions in the permeability coefficient of up to 54.4 % were observed, rendering the modified system promising. Correlation analysis revealed an increase in correlation between the data collected using the modified synthetic substitute (R 2 = 0.86) and a selfcollated library of literature-derived epidermal tissue permeability data, relating to eighteen compounds and spanning a range of typical penetrants, compared to similar analysis using data obtained using the native substitute ( R 2 = 0.75), suggesting an increase in the predictive capability. It was hypothesised that an N2 plasma treatment may provide suitable surface functional groups on the PDMS substrate, namely amine groups, for the covalent attachment of biomolecules via an N,N'- dicylohexylcarbodiimide (DCC) coupling reaction, enabling the production of a skin mimic displaying enhanced biorelevance. Therefore, the effect of an N2 plasma pre-treatment on the permeation of a subset of the eighteen compounds investigated. It was found that the N2 plasma pre-treatment was advantageous in terms of offering a greater reduction in permeability, since longer treatment times could be employed i.e. reductions of up to 61.8 % were observed. However, significant surface oxidation was still observed, with only a marginal increase in nitrogen containing functionalities compared with the air plasma analogue i.e. 0.31 %. Furthermore, the treatment did not offer any additional increase in correlation between epidermal-derived data than previously observed. Further chemical methods of biomolecule attachment were pursued for use in the development of a lipidproteinaceous bilayer model, initiated in both cases by surface amination using an alkoxysilane. This was followed by a DCC coupling to an amino acid in the former approach, and use of a glutaraldehyde III linker molecule to attach the same amino acid, namely lysine, in the latter approach. In either case, no further reductions in the permeation of the pharmaceutical compounds tested were observed, with respect to that through plasma treated PDMS. In summary, the air plasma treatment of PDMS was found to be a promising approach to simultaneously reducing the permeability of a silicone skin mimic and increasing correlation with data obtained in similar studies employing biological tissue. Further, the covalent coupling of biomolecules to the surface of PDMS following surface amine group generation, via both plasma and wet chemical methods, appeared not to compromise the integrity the PDMS membranes relating to such applications, rendering the techniques compatible with the production of biorelevant semi-synthetic skin mimics.

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