Needle phobes everywhere are one step closer to realizing their dream of painless blood draws, medication delivery, and vaccinations.
Developing a way to deliver drugs intravenously with minimal pain and trauma, by someone without medical expertise, has long been a mission of biomedical engineers. Until recently, their most promising product had been stainless steel and titanium microneedles. These metal microneedles, though, are prone to break on impact with skin.
Researchers led by Roger Narayan, MD, PhD, of the University of North Carolina , used two-photon polymerization of organically modified ceramic (Ormocer®) hybrid materials to create microneedles resistant to breakage. Another benefit of the hybrid needles is that they can be made in a wider range of sizes than those made with conventional microfabrication techniques.
The first patients Narayan imagines will benefit from his technique are those who require frequent injections or blood monitoring.
“Microneedles may be integrated with micropumps and biosensors to provide autonomous sampling of blood, analysis, and drug-delivery capabilities for treatment of chronic disease,” he said. “For example, one needle, pump and sensor unit would assay the glucose level in interstitial fluid of patients with diabetes mellitus. Another needle, pump and drug-delivery unit would deliver insulin in a continuous or programmed manner.”