New microneedle drug monitoring system to painlessly monitor drugs in bloodstream

New microneedle drug monitoring system to painlessly monitor drugs in bloodstream
Researchers at UBC and the Paul Scherrer Institut (PSI) in Switzerland have created a microneedle drug monitoring system capable of both collecting fluid and performing an analysis to determine the concentration of vancomycin in a patient's bloodstream. Credit: Sahan Ranamukhaarachchi

There are various researches has been going on to develop microneedle technology for painless vaccines and drug delivery. Previously, I have written about a 3D printed micro-needle. This 3D printed microneedle injects drugs into your body painlessly. This microneedle could be used as a medicine or drug over skin cancer and other serious diseases. Similarly, Scientists from University of Columbia and the Paul Scherrer Institute (PSI) in Switzerland have developed a microneedle drug monitoring system. This novel microneedle drug monitoring system could one day replace expensively, obtrusive blood draws and improves patient comfort.

Generally, micro-needle are developed to puncture the outside layer of skin, which acts as a protective layer. But, epidermis and dermis shields nerves, blood vessels, and active immune cells.

This microneedle drug monitoring system consists of the tiny and thin patch. These tiny and thin patch are then pressed opposite to patient’s arm during medical treatment. It then measures drugs in their bloodstream painlessly without drawing any blood. This small needle is only half of a millimeter long and looks like a hollow cone. Its main advantage is that it doesn’t cut the skin like a standard hypodermic needle.

This micro-needle is developed for monitoring the antibiotic vancomycin. Antibiotic vancomycin is used to diagnose serious infections and is administered through an intravenous line. Patients taking the antibiotic undergo three to four blood draws per day and need to be closely monitored because vancomycin can cause life-threatening toxic side effects.

The scientists also found that they could use the fluid to monitor vancomycin levels in the bloodstream. The fluid was found down to the outermost layer and can be used instead of blood. The microneedle then collects small bits of this fluid, which is less than a millionth of a millimeter. Through an optical sensor, the researchers are able to detect the reaction, which occurs inside microneedle.

New microneedle drug monitoring system to painlessly monitor drugs in bloodstream
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. Credit: Sahan Ranamukhaarachchi

Through this novel technique, researchers are able to determine the concentration of vancomycin quickly and easily.

Urs Hafeli, the associate professor in UBC’s faculty of pharmaceutical sciences, said, ” This is probably one of the smallest probe volumes ever recorded for a medically relevant analysis.”

Victor Cadarso, a research scientist, and Ambizione Fellow at PSI, said, “The combination of know-how from UBC and PSI, bringing together micro-needles, microfluidics, optics and biotechnology, allowed us to create such a device capable of both collecting the fluid and performing the analysis in one device.”