Interstitial fluid, which resembles blood plasma and that is reachable near the surface of the skin, contains many biomarkers, including sodium, potassium, and proteins, associated with normal body function, as well as those related to certain diseases. Researchers from Sandia National Laboratories and University of New Mexico have working on a new microneedle patch that can draw large quantities of interstitial fluid for laboratory testing. Additionally, there’s room for sensors to be integrated into the patch for point-of-care biomarker detection.
Each of the microneedles on the patch feeds into a tiny tube where interstitial fluid is collected. Within thirty minutes, about 2 microliters of interstitial fluid can be gathered within these tubes and transferred into laboratory machines for further testing.
In order to obtain the largest samples, the research team tested needlees of various lengths on people with different skin thicknesses. In addition to the main goal, comfort was also taken into consideration in order to make the patch as amenable to future patients as possible. The result is that the patch is able to gather more interstitial fluid than other methods and to do so with little pain, especially after the patch has been stuck to the skin.
The technology works so well that there’s already progress toward commercialization of the technology, which means that hopefully soon fewer blood draws will be necessary and less pain is experienced at clinics the world over.