An array of microneedles like this could be coated with medicine and act as a painless drug delivery system for flu vaccines, diseases of the eye and more. (Credit: Gary Meek)
Can you even imagine getting a shot of medication directly into your
eye? For many with macular degeneration and other eye disease, that's exactly what they go through. Hypodermic needles in their eyes. Oooouuuuch!
Mark Prausnitz, a researcher at the Georgia Institute of Technology and his colleagues from Georgia Tech and Emory University, has developed a microneedle patch that can deliver medicine directly to the eye without pain. The technology would assist in the delivery of new drugs that treat macular degeneration, the number one cause of blindness in the US. Currently these drugs must be injected via hypodermic needle directly into the eye every month.
But that's not the only use for the microneedle patch. It can be used to administer many drugs that are currently delivered by shot. The flu shot, for example, might one day be in a micropatch form that you can self administer. Just pick it up from the pharmacy, or have your physician send it to you.
Even if you're the big, brave kind that doesn't flinch when given a shot, think about all the infants and children that could be saved the dreaded trip to the pediatrician for their vaccines. The microneedle treatments may prove to be a safer delivery system than hypodermic needle delivery. And it would be faster acting than many oral medications as well.
Right now, the microneedle patches are being tested on non-humans. Perhaps in the next few years, hopes Prausnitz, they will have the first human trials.
via Science Daily