Conventional hypodermic needles have many limitations, including the time-consuming nature of use, the required medically trained personnel and the risk of infection transmission via contaminated needle injuries. In addition, approximately 10% of the population suffer from needle phobia and hypodermic needles use can lead to pain, bruises, bleeding and distress at the site of application.
Microneedles are a three-dimension microstructure with microscale length (usually less than 1000 μm). They were described, for the first time, as drug delivery devices in 1976 by the inventors, Gerstel and Place, in a United States Patent. They pierce the stratum corneum and generate transient microchannels through which external molecules can passively diffuse into skin. This dimension also allows microneedles to access appointed depth without stimulating nerves in the underlying dermis and damaging blood vessels. In comparison with hypodermic needles, microneedles have many benefits, including; the low cost, the patient-friendly and easy administration of drugs across the skin and the potential efficacy similar to that of parenteral route of administration.
Our laboratory is dedicated to develop microneedle-based transdermal technologies. They can be used to deliver drugs for treating both local and systematic diseases such as abnormal scar, cancer, obesity etc. Their combination with wearable electronics would allow the in situ diagnosis or monitoring of health conditions.