Microneedles to Monitor Drugs Instead of Administer Them

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Microneedles to Monitor Drugs Instead of Administer Them

7/28/16 Using a microneedle, which punctures the outer layer of skin, researchers at the University of British Columbia have created a way to monitor drug levels in patients that is easier and less invasive. Currently, in order to monitor levels of powerful antibiotics, a doctor has to draw blood multiple times per day from a patient. The researchers have created a microneedle system to check the levels of the drug easily without piercing the skin. This microneedle patch measures the drug in a persons system based on concentrations in fluid just below the top layer of skin, making monitoring the drug easier and far less painful for patients and doctors.

So far most microneedle devices have been created to deliver drugs to patients, but this new one suggests it can monitor the drug levels in a human body. For example Vancomycin is a powerful antibiotic used to treat difficult infections and is administered intravenously. Then a doctor has to draw blood from the patient three to four times per day to monitor its levels in the body because it has the potential for life-threatening toxic side effects

“This is probably one of the smallest probe volumes ever recorded for a medically relevant analysis,” Dr. Urs Hafeli, an associate professor of pharmaceutical sciences at the University of British Columbia, said in a press release. “The combination of knowhow from UBC and PSI, bringing together microneedles, microfluidics, optics and biotechnology, allowed us to create such a device capable of both collecting the fluid and performing the analysis in one device.”

The researchers created and tested this optofluidic device with a small circle of microneedles to be pressed on the skin for sample collection. The array of microneedles (< 500 microns long) is pressed against a patient’s skin, drawing a small amount of fluid from beneath the outer layer of skin without puncturing any of the layers below it. The fluid is drawn up into the device, which causes a chemical reaction that can be detected using an optical sensor, revealing the concentration of vancomycin in a patient’s system.
“Many groups are researching microneedle technology for painless vaccines and drug delivery,” said Sahan Ranamukhaarachchi, a doctoral student of applied science and pharmaceutical sciences at the University of British Columbia. “Using them to painlessly monitor drugs is a newer idea.”

Micro needles are a concept that we have been involved with, please see our micro needle array projects on our micro molding page: https://www.microengineeringsolutions.com/mes_service/micro-molding/

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