Melanoma! The mere mention of the skin cancer sends shivers down the spine especially since treatment is often painful and toxic. Now, Purdue University researchers have engineered a new improved treatment in the form of a wearable patch.
"We developed a novel wearable patch with fully miniaturized needles, enabling unobtrusive drug delivery through the skin for the management of skin cancers," said Chi Hwan Lee, a Purdue assistant professor of biomedical engineering and mechanical engineering.
"Uniquely, 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."
Lee explained that this unique slow dissolution of the silicon nanoneedles enables long-lasting sustainable delivery of 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 said.
The technology consists of bioresorbable silicon nanoneedles built on a water-soluble medical film. This film works as a temporary holder that can be conformably interfaced with the skin during the insertion of the nanoneedles.
It is then followed by complete dissolution within a minute. The surface of the nanoneedles provides a large drug loading capacity comparable to conventional microneedles.
Lee explained that this process allows the nanoneedles to deliver the skin cancer drugs to target melanoma sites in a sustainable way. Better yet, the silicon nanoneedles are also dissolvable in tissue fluids. As such, the wearable patch is completely and safely resorbed in the body over a period of a few months.
The research is published in the journal ACS Nano.