Actinic keratosis (AK) is a pre-cancerous disease, with worldwide increasing incidence, which consists in squamous cutaneous lesion caused by excessive exposure to ultraviolet radiation. An established treatment option is photodynamic therapy (PDT), based on light, oxygen and a photosensitizer. The most widely used is 5-aminolevulinic acid (ALA) which however, being a hydrophilic molecule, has difficultly penetrating the skin to achieve the desired therapeutic effect.
To solve this limit, the present study provides for the development of three galenic gel formulations (Natrosol, Sepigel and Carbopol) containing 10% w/w of ALA for the treatment of AK with PDT and their comparison with a lipophilic cream used in the Hospital. The aim of this study is to offer an appealing topical treatment that improves patients’ observance and compliance. Formulations were characterized in terms of chemical, physical and microbiological stability, viscosity and pH. An HPLC-DAD analytical method was also developed and validated. Sepigel gel resulted the best gel formulation in terms of technological characteristics and stability. A comparative study between this gel and the lipophilic cream was assessed, by evaluating the therapeutic efficacy and the compliance of the patients.