Scientists at the KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, Sweden have developed a new flexible microneedle patch that resolves some of the limitations of similar existing devices. Typically, drug delivery patches designed to penetrate only the top layers of skin, as opposed to transdermal devices, are made of a single material. While it’s best to have the base rather soft to achieve optimal contact and comfort, the needles have to be rigid in order to successfully pierce the skin.
The KTH team developed a composite device that consists of a soft base made from a polymer and rigid stainless needles that penetrate the skin. “To the best of our knowledge, flexible and stretchable patches with arrays of sharp and stiff microneedles have not been demonstrated to date,” said Frank Niklaus, a professor of micro and nanofabrication at KTH, in a statement.
The team built two versions of their patch, one more flexible than the other. The more stretchable device showed excellent pliability and each of its 50 needles successfully penetrated the skin in a 30 minute test.
If the technology proves itself in additional studies, it may help make microneedle patches considerably more common and applicable to a variety of patients and conditions.