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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.

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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/