Flexible Microneedle Patch Could Replace Painful Shots


Improved microneedle patch could transform the way drugs are administered.

Microneedle patches may replace painful injections in the future.

Investigators have created a microneedle patch that combines stainless steel needles embedded into a soft polymer base. The needles are stiff enough to ensure reliable skin penetration, while the soft material makes it comfortable to wear, according to a study published inPLOSONE.

“To the best of our knowledge, flexible and stretchable patches with arrays of sharp and stiff microneedles have not been demonstrated to date,” said study investigator Frank Niklaus.

Niklaus, a professor of micro and nanofabrication at KTH Royal Institute of Technology, said that almost all microneedle arrays currently being tested are monoliths. Both the needles and their supporting base are made of the same, hard and stiff, material.

Two variations of the concept were tested in the study, one of which was stretchable and slightly more flexible than the other, with a base of molded thiolene-epoxy-based thermoset film. The results of the study showed that the more flexible patch conformed well to deformations on the skin surface, and all 50 of the needles penetrated the skin during a 30-minute test.

A successful microneedle product would transform health care delivery, and the chronically ill would not have to take daily injections, according to study co-author Niclas Roxhed. Furthermore, it offers a hygienic benefit.

“Since the patch does not enter the bloodstream, there is less risk of spreading infections, Roxhed said.

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