Traditional hypodermic needles can be frightening and painful for children and adults alike. With the need to monitor blood glucose levels of patients with diabetes, patient compliance and therefore outcomes, could suffer.
Micro-needles have been developed across the world however problems such as the available space for volume of drug as well as getting a sharp enough end to penetrate the skin have arisen.
Professor Owen Guy and a team of researchers, working with SPTS technologies in Newport, and Cardiff University, are developing small microneedles from silicone. Silicone is typically used in the semi-conductor industry. Equipment etches into silicone wafers in order to reveal the shaft and bevelled tip. Just 1mm in height with a diameter of .2mm these microneedles have a very sharp bevelled tip and a hollow bore which allow for a larger volume of drug to be administered with very little to no pain.
The project has benefitted from funding from ESPRC and Innovate UK, in collaboration with industry.
• These microneedles can be used as a theranostic device for diseases such as diabetes. If embedded into a wearable patch, the microneedle could diagnose the amount of glucose in the blood and then deliver the appropriate amount of insulin. This could improve the amount of drug given to the patient which would lead to better patient outcomes.
• The non-invasive and pain free nature of these microneedles encourage better patient compliance and outcomes.