Microneedles

  • ​For several years now, we've been hearing about "microneedle patches" that deliver medication less painfully and more safely than hypodermic needles. A new take on the technology may allow them to work even better, by copying the structure of venomous snakes' fangs.
  • Science
    ​When farmers find sickly plants in their crops, it's important that they find out which malady is responsible, as quickly as possible. New microneedle technology could help, paving the way for a handheld device that would provide the answer within minutes, right in the field.
  • ​Although it's important to get vaccines to people in developing nations and elsewhere, it's also crucial that those medications subsequently be administered in a safe and sterile manner. A new microneedle patch could help, as it incorporates bacteria-killing silver.
  • Plenty of work has gone into developing an insulin pill as an alternative to injections, but that comes with its own challenges. Now, an MIT team has created a new design for a capsule that houses a microneedle made of insulin, which injects the hormone through the stomach lining.
  • Contraceptives are inconvenient – implanted devices are invasive, and you have to remember to take the pill every day. Now researchers at Georgia Tech are developing a painless, contraceptive microneedle patch that people can apply themselves in seconds, and only needs to be done once a month.
  • ​In an effort to spare diabetics the pain of performing daily finger-prick blood glucose tests, various groups have developed continuous blood-sugar monitoring systems. Swedish scientists now believe that they may have improved on such technology, utilizing a skin patch that sports a tiny needle.
  • ​We've already heard about "microneedle" patches that deliver medication through the skin. Well, scientists at Nanyang Technological University, Singapore have taken the same approach to treating eye diseases. They've developed a patch laden with tiny needles, which get poked into the eyeball.
  • Science
    ​Needles – none of us like them. But researchers from Ohio State University think it doesn’t have to be this way. They’re drawing inspiration from the mosquito to make injections a less miserable experience.
  • We've already seen microneedle-equipped skin patches being designed for everything from pain-free vaccinations to targeted fat-burning. Now, scientists from Queen’s University Belfast are developing a patch that they believe could slow the development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
  • There are already skin patches that help people quit smoking … could patches that help them lose weight be far behind? Well, thanks to research being conducted at Singapore's Nanyang Technological University, the things already exist – for mice, at least.
  • A less awful alternative to getting injections is another step closer to reality. In human clinical trials, painless microneedle patches have been found to be just as effective at delivering flu vaccines, and are easier to administer, transport, store and dispose of than regular needles.
  • We have seen numerous takes on microneedle technology, but researchers in Sweden believe they have come with a design to top them all, with a patch that combines soft and hard materials for better performance and comfort. ​