Oct 1, 2015 | By Kira

Scientists from the University of Akron and University of Texas today announced a pioneering technique for producing 3D micro-printed needles. The needles, measuring no more than 1 mm high, are made from a biomaterial that after painlessly delivering the drug would simply degrade into the patient’s body. They could be used to treat a wide range of diseases including skin cancer and help reduce the stigma associated with injections.

A 3D printed micro-needle array

Fear of needles, known in medical literature simply as needle phobia, is a widespread and potentially deadly issue. Studies estimate that as many as 3.5-10% of Americans suffer from needle phobia, a condition whose symptoms include severe anxiety, high blood pressure, intense pain, and fainting, often causing the patient to avoid healthcare settings entirely. This puts themselves and their families at great risk if, for example, they refuse to get a vaccination or blood test. But even for those who do not suffer from needle phobia, the procedure isn’t exactly enjoyable. Children are notorious for crying just at the sight of the pointy object, and for cancer or diabetes patients, the thought of receiving (or self-administering) one to several shots every single day can be unbearable.

The new 3D printed micro-needles offer a very promising solution and could eventually do away with painful, fear-inducing injections entirely. According to the research paper, the advatanges of transdermal drug delivery (whereby the medicine is administered slowly through the skin) include better patient compliance, the possibility of controlled drug release, and of course a pain-free experience for the patient. They foresee the needles being used for delivering immounobiologicals, biopharmaceuticals, and drugs such as vaccines, insulin and even aspirin.

In the study, the researchers report producing a drug-loaded array of their new device for transdermal delivery of a chemotherapeutic drug. The arrays consisted of 25 poly (propylene fumarate) microneedles, with each needle having a tip and base diameter of 20 micrometers (µm) and 200 µm, respectively, and a height of 1 mm. To achieve these minuscule proportions, the needle arrays were fabricated using microstereolithography.

Yet even with micro-technology on their side, the 3D printing process was no easy feat. According the Jae-Won Choi, an author on the research paper, the 3D printable biomaterial contains some non-printable solvents and drugs. To solve this, dacarbazine, an antineoplastic chemotherapy drug commonly used to treat skin cancer, was blended into the solution prior to crosslinking, a final part of the 3D printing process. The needles were then tested, and proved capable of withstanding the stresses and strains they would likely be submitted to when inserted into the patient’s skin.

While there technique requires further study, it is a promising development for doctors and patients alike, and could be introduced to hospitals within the next 5-10 years. “We’d like to have a faster drug release, but this will require more material research,” said Choi. “Once we improve this process we can look at developing more controlled drug release. I’d hope we’ll see this being used clinically in 5-10 years.”

The paper was published under the title “Microstereolithography and characterization of poly(propylene fumarate)-based drug-loaded microneedle arrays” in the scientific journal Biofabrication. Along with Choi, the authors are Yanfeg Lu, Satya Nymisha Mantha, Douglas C Crowder, Sofia Chinchilla, Kush N Shah, Yang H Yun and Ryan B Wicker.




Posted in 3D Printing Applications





Maybe you also like:


Leave a comment:

Your Name:


Subscribe us to

3ders.org Feeds 3ders.org twitter 3ders.org facebook   

About 3Ders.org

3Ders.org provides the latest news about 3D printing technology and 3D printers. We are now seven years old and have around 1.5 million unique visitors per month.

News Archive