Research published in the journal ACS Nano describes a wearable patch that can be used to lessen side effects from chemotherapy and radiotherapy for melanoma patients. The innovation was created by researchers at Purdue University in response to the suffering that melanoma patients undergo when receiving conventional therapies to fight the cancer.
Melanoma is an aggressive kind of skin cancer that can metastasize quickly if it is not treated early. Additionally, it is a particularly tricky cancer because melanoma cells are known for being recurrent in their nature.
"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, who is 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 the gradual dissolution of the silicon needles inside the tissues within several months."
The bioresorbable silicon nanoneedles are constructed on a thin, flexible and water-soluble medical film which is used to insert the needles. The silicon nanoneedles dissolve quickly into the skin afterward but because they stay active over time, the patch provides delivery of anti-cancer drugs for an extended period. Eventually, the biocompatible nanoneedles dissolve in into tissue fluids and reabsorb into the body without any adverse secondary effects.
"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.
Compared to conventional microneedles, the nanoneedles’ pore surface areas are able to provide a large drug loading capacity, which Lee says can target melanoma sites to deliver chemotherapeutic drugs.
Following Eureka Alert, Lee said he got inspired to create such an innovation after observing how scared his daughter was of needles when receiving vaccinations.