Publication Type:

Journal Article


Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (2015)



Pain management would be greatly enhanced by a formulation that would provide local anesthesia at the time desired by patients and with the desired intensity and duration. To this end, we have developed near-infrared (NIR) light-triggered liposomes to provide on-demand adjustable local anesthesia. The liposomes contained tetrodotoxin (TTX), which has ultrapotent local anesthetic properties. They were made photo-labile by encapsulation of a NIR-triggerable photosensitizer; irradiation at 730 nm led to peroxidation of liposomal lipids, allowing drug release. In vitro, 5.6% of TTX was released upon NIR irradiation, which could be repeated a second time. The formulations were not cytotoxic in cell culture. In vivo, injection of liposomes containing TTX and the photosensitizer caused an initial nerve block lasting 13.5 ± 3.1 h. Additional periods of nerve block could be induced by irradiation at 730 nm. The timing, intensity, and duration of nerve blockade could be controlled by adjusting the timing, irradiance, and duration of irradiation. Tissue reaction to this formulation and the associated irradiation was benign.

Cite this Research Publication

A. Y. Rwei, Lee, J. - J., Zhan, C., Liu, Q., Ok, M. T., Shankarappa, S. A., Langer, R., and Kohane, D. S., “Repeatable and adjustable on-demand sciatic nerve block with phototriggerable liposomes”, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2015.