Scientists have always been interested in the use of natural polymers for drug delivery. Chitosan, being a natural cationic polysaccharide has received a great deal of attention in the past few years. It is obtained by deacetylation of chitin and is regarded as the second most ubiquitous polymer subsequent to cellulose on earth. Unlike other natural polymers, the cationic charge possessed by chitosan is accountable for imparting interesting physical and chemical properties. Chitosan has been widely exploited for its mucoadhesive character, permeation enhancing properties and controlled release of drugs. Moreover it’s non-toxic, biocompatible and biodegradable properties make it a good candidate for novel drug delivery system. This review provides an insight on various chitosan based formulations for drug delivery. Some of the current applications of chitosan in areas like ophthalmic, nasal, buccal, sublingual, gastro-retentive, pulmonary, transdermal, colon-specific and vaginal drug delivery have been discussed. In addition, active targeting of drugs to tumor cells using chitosan has been described. Lastly a brief section covering the safety aspects of chitosan has also been reviewed.
Keywords: Biocompatible, biodegradable, chitosan, controlled release, drug delivery, mucoadhesive character.