This set of microneedles has rear facing tines that interlock with the tissue when inserted, improving adhesion. (Photo: Riddish Morde)
In the future, painful hypodermic needles may not be needed to inject drugs and obtain blood samples.
Using 4D printing, engineers at Rutgers have created tiny needles that mimic parasites that cling to the skin and could replace hypodermic needles, according to a study in the journal Advanced Functional Materials.
While 3D printing builds objects layer by layer, 4D goes further with smart materials that are programmed to change shape after printing. Time is the fourth dimension that allows materials to transform into new forms.
“We believe that our 4D-printed microneedle array will allow for more robust and sustained use of painless, minimally invasive and minimally invasive microneedles for drug delivery, wound healing, biodetection and other soft tissue applications,” said the Lead author Howon Lee, Associate Professor, Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, Rutgers University School of Engineering, New Brunswick.
Hypodermic needles are widely used in hospitals and laboratories to draw blood and inject drugs, causing pain, scarring of the skin, and posing a risk of infection. People with diabetes often take blood samples several times a day with needles to check blood sugar levels.
Microneedles (miniaturized needles) are attracting attention because they are short, thin, and minimally invasive, reduce pain and risk of infection, and are easy to use. However, its weak tissue adhesion is a major challenge for long-term controlled drug delivery or biodetection, which involves the use of a device to detect DNA, enzymes, antibodies, and other health indicators.
In nature, some insects and other organisms have developed microscopic structures that adhere to tissues, such as micro-hooks from parasites, stingers from bees, and squamous quills from porcupines. Drawing on these examples, Rutgers engineers developed a microneedle that interlocks with the tissue when inserted, improving adhesion. They combined a 3D microprinting technique and a 4D printing method to create rear-facing quills on a microneedle.
Using chicken muscle tissue as a model, the researchers showed that tissue adhesion with their microneedle is 18 times stronger than with a microneedle without a barb. Its creation surpasses previously reported examples, resulting in a more stable and robust drug supply, and better biofluid collection and biodetection, the study says.
The study’s three main authors are Daehoon Han, a former Rutgers PhD student who is now doing a postdoctoral degree at the University of Minnesota, Riddish S. Morde, a former Rutgers Master’s student, and a researcher at the University of Pisa. in Italy. Rutgers PhD student Chen Yang and researchers from the University of Pisa contributed to the study, which was funded by the New Jersey Health Foundation and the Italian Ministry of Education, University and Research.
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