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Transdermal Drug Delivery

Microneedle Technologies for Transdermal Delivery

The outer layer of human skin (the stratum corneum) is just 0.02 mm thick, but presents a major impediment to the transdermal delivery of drugs and vaccines.  This barrier is the primary reason why drug delivery via the skin is currently limited to a small number of drugs such as nicotine for smoking cessation and testosterone for hormone replacement therapy.

Tyndall National Institute is a world leader in the development of microneedle technologies to overcome the stratum corneum barrier in a minimally invasive manner.  These sharp-tipped, micron-scale projections are generally around 0.5 mm in length, and are made using advanced microfabrication technologies.  Tyndall’s microneedles are available in variety of solid or hollow geometries.  Solid (silicon or polymer) microneedles create transient perforations in the skin’s stratum corneum, thereby increasing the permeability of the barrier layer to large molecules by several orders of magnitude; hollow silicon microneedles include a narrow bore through which therapeutic agents can be infused directly into the lower skin layers. 

Structure of human skin – although microneedle arrays penetrate the outermost layer, they do not stimulate the nerve endings beneath
Structure of human skin – although microneedle arrays penetrate the outermost layer, they do not stimulate the nerve endings beneath.

In addition, we work with teams worldwide, including those at University College Cork and at Queens University Belfast, who investigate drug and vaccine delivery by incorporating therapeutic agents in dissolvable needles or by coating microneedles with vaccine-loaded biodegradable formulations.

Since microneedle heights can be chosen so as to penetrate the stratum corneum whilst avoiding stimulation of the underlying nerve endings that lie deeper in the epidermis, the minimally-invasive and painless nature of microneedle application makes this a very attractive technology. Other advantages include avoidance of the first-pass metabolic effect in the liver, controllable dose delivery, high patient compliance, dose sparing, elimination of needle-stick injuries, and removal of the need for a trained healthcare practitioner.

Hollow silicon microneedles can be used to infuse drugs and vaccines into the epidermal layers of the skin.
Hollow silicon microneedles can be used to infuse drugs and vaccines into the epidermal layers of the skin
Hollow silicon microneedles can be used to infuse drugs and vaccines into the epidermal layers of the skin.

 

Biodegradable microneedle incorporating a vaccine-loaded tip region
Biodegradable microneedle incorporating a vaccine-loaded tip region (photo courtesy A. C. Moore, UCC School of Pharmacy).

Tyndall National Institute is currently collaborating with industrial partners such as Scienion and Sony DADC Biosciences to industrialise the technology, and is always happy to hear from academic and commercial users who wish to further develop this technology and its applications.

 

 

Contact enquiry (at) tyndall (dot) ie for all Business Development enquiries


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