New pressure treatment sans needles allows for safe, easy insulin administration

August 10, 2020

Traditional Chinese topical treatments, including the ‘tuina’ therapy where pressure is first applied on skin and muscle before a topical ointment, has inspired researchers in Singapore to use similar techniques for safer insulin delivery.

A team at Nanyang Technological University (NTU) demonstrated how magnets can be used to pinch and apply pressure – called “temporal pressure” – to the skin. This forces short-term alterations in the skin barrier that leads to additional micropores beneath the surface, which in turn allow drugs such as insulin to enter the body and diffuse more easily and efficiently.

The pressure treatment was compared to treatments involving no pressure, and treatments involving microneedle patches instead, where the drugs enter the body via dozens of ultra-thin needles. Insulin uptake was recorded for each treatment type.

The additional micropores, which feature an area of around three micrometers, were found to have allowed six times the mass of drugs to diffuse through the skin compared to treatments involving no temporal pressure. The amount of drugs delivered was also comparable to that delivered via the microneedle patches, while the micropores were found to disappear just a day later.

In addition, the micropores allowed transdermal delivery of drugs, where it is applied topically on the surface of the skin without needles; at least 40 times more than what is possible using current transdermal drug delivery techniques.

“Patients who have to inject drugs daily, such as insulin, are constantly asking whether there is another way to deliver their medicines that doesn’t involve hurting or penetrating the skin,” said NTU’s Professor David L. Becker. “Our new findings hold promise for them and we hope that we can refine this method so that one day it may be possible to deliver enough drugs through the skin via a patch and to rid them of their daily injections.”

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Category: Pharmaceuticals

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