A pressing problem in medicine is the painless, targeted and sustained delivery of medication (active substance) in a certain area of the patient’s body. The advantage of a transdermal drug delivery route over other types of medication delivery–such as oral, topical, intravenous, intramuscular, etc.– is that the patch provides a controlled release of the medication into the patient, through either a porous membrane covering a reservoir of medication, or through body heat melting thin layers of medication embedded in the adhesive. Until recently, the main disadvantage of transdermal delivery systems was the fact that the skin is a very effective barrier; meaning that only medications whose molecules are small enough to penetrate the skin could be delivered by this method.
However, with the advent of nanotechnologies and 2D materials like graphene, this form of treatment is becoming the most effective smart therapy of the day. The nanoscopic scale of the graphene particles enables doses of medication to reach the damaged area of the body unobstructed. Graphene-based pastes are embedded in the membranes of the patch, allowing the active substance to be released gradually, so the patch lasts longer before requiring replacement. Meanwhile, graphene’s electrical properties enable the development of flexible sensors that can be embedded inside medication patches. These sensors will collect and upload data about the patient’s medical status, via an external app.