Dissolving microneedles for cutaneous drug and vaccine delivery
Chu, Leonard Yi
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Currently, biopharmaceuticals including vaccines, proteins, and DNA are delivered almost exclusively through the parenteral route using hypodermic needles. However, injection by hypodermic needles generates pain and causes bleeding. Disposal of these needles also produces biohazardous sharp waste. An alternative delivery tool called microneedles may solve these issues. Microneedles are micron-size needles that deliver drugs or biopharmaceuticals into skin by creating tiny channels in the skin. This thesis focuses on dissolving microneedles in which the needle tips dissolve and release the encapsulated drug or vaccine upon insertion. The project aimed to (i) design and optimize dissolving microneedles for efficient drug and vaccine delivery to the skin, (ii) maintain vaccine stability over long-term storage, and (iii) immunize animals using vaccine encapsulated microneedles. The results showed that influenza vaccine encapsulated in microneedles was more thermally stable than unprocessed vaccine solution over prolonged periods of storage time. In addition, mice immunized with microneedles containing influenza vaccine offered full protection against lethal influenza virus infection. As a result, we envision the newly developed dissolving microneedle system can be a safe, patient compliant, easy to-use and self-administered method for rapid drug and vaccine delivery to the skin.