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Arch Pharm Res. 2012 Mar;35(4):579-93. doi: 10.1007/s12272-012-0401-7. Epub 2012 May 3.

The relevance of polymeric synthetic membranes in topical formulation assessment and drug diffusion study.

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Drug Delivery and Novel Targeting Research Group, Faculty of Pharmacy, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur, 50300, Malaysia.


Synthetic membranes are composed of thin sheets of polymeric macromolecules that can control the passage of components through them. Generally, synthetic membranes used in drug diffusion studies have one of two functions: skin simulation or quality control. Synthetic membranes for skin simulation, such as the silicone-based membranes polydimethylsiloxane and Carbosil, are generally hydrophobic and rate limiting, imitating the stratum corneum. In contrast, synthetic membranes for quality control, such as cellulose esters and polysulfone, are required to act as a support rather than a barrier. These synthetic membranes also often contain pores; hence, they are called porous membranes. The significance of Franz diffusion studies and synthetic membranes in quality control studies involves an understanding of the fundamentals of synthetic membranes. This article provides a general overview of synthetic membranes, including a brief background of the history and the common applications of synthetic membranes. This review then explores the types of synthetic membranes, the transport mechanisms across them, and their relevance in choosing a synthetic membrane in Franz diffusion cell studies for formulation assessment purposes.

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