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Microneedles: Report describes progress in new technology for painless drug delivery

A paper published during the week of November 17 in the online issue of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences describes progress in the development of microneedle arrays for delivering drugs and vaccines through the skin - without causing pain.

The paper describes research at the Georgia Institute of Technology on fabricating hollow and solid microneedles in a variety of sizes and shapes from metals, biodegradable polymers, silicon and glass. It also reports on testing with cadaver skin and animals that demonstrates the ability of the micron-scale needles to deliver proteins, nanoparticles, and both small and large molecules through the skin.

"We've opened up the potential use of microneedles for delivering a broad range of therapeutics," said Mark Prausnitz, a professor in Georgia Tech's School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering and principal investigator for the project. "Fabricating both hollow and solid microneedles in a variety of shapes, sizes and materials allows us to deliver large molecules with significant therapeutic interest such as insulin, proteins produced by the biotechnology industry, and nanoparticles that could encapsulate a drug or demonstrate the ability to deliver a virus for vaccinations."

Georgia Tech's development of microneedles began in the late 1990s with microfabrication of solid needles made from silicon, using microlithography and etching technologies originally developed for the microelectronics industry. The researchers produced arrays of up to 400 needles designed to punch holes in the outer layer of skin to increase its permeability to small molecules applied with patches.

That work has broadened to include both solid and hollow microneedles in a broad range of shapes with feature sizes from one to 1,000 microns. Prausnitz and his research team have fabricated microneedle arrays from metal and polymer materials that have sufficient strength to reliably pene
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Contact: John Toon
john.toon@edi.gatech.edu
404-894-6986
Georgia Institute of Technology Research News
17-Nov-2003


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