Carbon microneedles: Low-cost, painless injections

• Tiny needles less than 1 mm in size have been developed by researchers from Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Kharagpur.

• When arranged on a patch, the tiny hollow microneedles can be used for painless drug delivery.

• Last year, the team had developed microneedles from a widely used photosensitive polymer (SU-8).

Key highlights

• Since the needles were not hard enough and biocompatible, they modified it using a simple process of extreme heating or pyrolysis.

• This produced glassy carbon needles which were almost 300 times stronger than the original ones.

• Since it was made of carbon it was also biocompatible.

• Heating removed most of the nitrogen and oxygen in the polymer and the needle was solely made of carbon.

• The needles showed no toxicity when tested on mice models, says Prof. Bidhan Pramanick who completed his post-doctoral research from the institute.

• The needles were arranged in a patch (10 X10) and tested for drug delivery.
• The patch was attached to a 5 ml syringe and flow rate studied.

• They found the flow corresponds to the inlet pressure suggesting that drug delivery can be controlled by managing the pressure.

Drug delivery system

• When a needle is inserted into the skin, it experiences resistance from the skin. A good needle should be able to overcome the forces to penetrate the skin.

• Using compression and bending tests, the researchers found that the needles did not break or bend when force was applied.

• The patch was tested on mouse models and even after 15 insertions, the patch and needles remained intact.

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Mains Paper 3: Science & Technology

Prelims level: Carbon microneedles

Mains level: Not much

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