Purdue University innovators in the US have created a novel wearable patch with fully miniaturized nanoneedles that can enhance drug delivery for people with melanoma which is a form of skin cancer.

The bioresorbable silicon nanoneedles are built on a thin, flexible and water-soluble medical film. The water-soluble film serves as a temporary holder that can be conformably interfaced with the soft, curvilinear surface of the skin during the insertion of the nanoneedles, followed by rapid, complete dissolution within a minute.

The surface of the nanoneedles is configured with nanoscale pores and provides a large drug loading capacity comparable to those using conventional microneedles. According to Chi Hwan Lee, a Purdue assistant professor of biomedical engineering and mechanical engineering, nanoneedles could deliver the chemotherapeutic drugs to target melanoma sites in a sustainable manner.

Nano Needles

Skin Patch
Skin Patch (Representational Picture) Wikimedia Commons

The silicon nanoneedles are biocompatible and dissolvable in tissue fluids, such that they can be completely resorbed in the body over months in a harmless manner, said the paper published in the journal ACS Nano. "We developed a novel wearable patch with fully miniaturized needles, enabling unobtrusive drug delivery through the skin for the management of skin cancers," said Lee.

This patch is fully dissolvable by body fluids in a programmable manner such that the patch substrate is dissolved within one minute after the introduction of needles into the skin, followed by gradual dissolution of the silicon needles inside the tissues within several months.

Side Effects From Other Therapies

Conventional melanoma therapies, including chemotherapy and radiotherapy, suffer from the toxicity and side effects of repeated treatments due to the aggressive and recurrent nature of melanoma cells. Lee said this gradual slow dissolution of the silicon nanoneedles allows for long-lasting and sustainable delivery of cancer therapeutics.

"The uniqueness of our technology arises from the fact that we used extremely small but long-lasting silicon nanoneedles with sharpened angular tips that are easy for their penetration into the skin in a painless and minimally invasive manner," Lee noted. The researchers are now looking for partners to continue developing their technology.