No-one likes getting injections. Fortunately, patients may soon have a pain-free alternative in the form of microneedle delivery systems – a hot area of research for our group and others around the world.
So what is a microneedle? The simple answer is that it’s just like a normal needle, but on a micrometer scale. Microneedles also differ from conventional needles in that they are almost always found in an array, with several hundred tiny needles arranged in a grid. Drugs can be incorporated inside the needles or as a coat over the surface of the array.
The needles are small but there are big advantages to the technology. The most obvious benefits come when we consider using microneedle arrays in place of a traditional hypodermic injection. Children are often afraid of injections, and it’s thought that more than 10 percent of adults have a needle phobia (1) – see “Needle Phobia Facts”. While we may call them needles, microneedles are almost invisible to the naked eye and painless to apply – they feel like a piece of Velcro and so shouldn’t trigger the same concerns.
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