The new system consists of a small, thin patch that is pressed against a patient’s arm during medical treatment and measures drugs in their bloodstream painlessly without drawing any blood. The tiny needle-like projection, less than half a milimetre long, resembles a hollow cone and doesn’t pierce the skin like a standard hypodermic needle.
“Many groups are researching microneedle technology for painless vaccines and drug delivery,” said researcher Sahan Ranamukhaarachchi, a PhD student and Vanier scholar in UBC’s faculties of applied science and pharmaceutical sciences, who developed this technology during a research exchange at PSI. “Using them to painlessly monitor drugs is a newer idea.”
Microneedles are designed to puncture the outer layer of skin, which acts as a protective shield, but not the next layers of epidermis and the dermis, which house nerves, blood vessels and active immune cells.