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Niosomes are non-ionic surfactant based vesicles. Niosomes are formed mostly by non-ionic surfactant and cholesterol incorporation as an excipient. Other excipients can also be used. Niosomes have more penetrating capability than the previous preparations of emulsions. They are structurally similar to liposomes in having a bilayer, however, the materials used to prepare niosomes make them more stable and thus niosomes offer many more advantages over liposomes. Niosomes are lamellar structures that are microscopic in size. They constitute of non-ionic surfactant of the alkyl or dialkyl polyglycerol ether class and cholesterol with subsequent hydration in aqueous media. The surfactant molecules tend to orient themselves in such a way that the hydrophilic ends of the non-ionic surfactant point outwards, while the hydrophobic ends face each other to form the bilayer.
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Scope and Importance:
Niosomes are a novel drug delivery system that are finding application in gene delivery, drug targeting, antineoplastic treatment, leishmaniasis treatment, delivery of peptide drugs, studying immune response, carriers for haemoglobin, transdermal drug delivery systems and cosmetics.
Niosomes are osmotically active, chemically stable and have long storage time compared to liposomes. Their surface formation and modification is very easy because of the functional groups on their hydrophilic heads. They have high compatibility with biological systems and low toxicity because of their non-ionic nature. They are biodegradable and non-immunogenic. They can entrap lipophilic drugs into vesicular bilayer membranes and hydrophilic drugs in aqueous compartments. They can improve the therapeutic performance of the drug molecules by protecting the drug from biological environment, resulting in better availability and controlled drug delivery by restricting the drug effects to target cells in targeted carriers and delaying clearance from the circulation in sustained drug delivery. Their access to raw materials is convenient. Niosomes can be prepared by various methods, including: ether injection method (EIM), reverse phase evaporation method (REV), trans membrane pH gradient, the "Bubble" method, micro fluidization method, formation of niosomes from proniosomes (Proniosome technology (PT)), thin-film hydration method (TFH), heating method (HM), freeze and thaw method (FAT) and dehydration rehydration method (DRM).
According to IMS Health Consulting, an international research company, in 2012 the size of the global pharmaceutical market reached $940 billion. In monetary terms it grew by 6%. In the future the sector is expected to grow at no less than 3% to 4% a year and if this happens the global pharmaceutical market is expected to reach $1.1 trillion by 2015 and will reach $1.2 trillion in 2016 and up to $1.5 trillion by 2020. The global demographic, epidemiological and economic changes are transforming the pharmaceutical market. The world population is growing rapidly and is projected to raise from 7 billion in 2011 to 7.7 billion in 2020 and 9.6 billion in 2050, hence an increase in the demand for pharmaceuticals.
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