Researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have developed a fast-acting skin patch that effectively delivers cancer-fighting medication to affected melanoma cells. Their research was presented yesterday at the American Chemical Society (ACS) Fall 2019 Meeting and Exposition. The entire presentation is in the video below.
A skin patch is ideal for melanoma treatment because traditional treatments are not fully effective or convenient. Medicated ointments don’t penetrate skin layers deeply enough, and although syringes deliver medicine efficiently, they’re painful and inconvenient for patient-use.
Microneedle patches are a painless and successful way to deliver treatment. They’re prepared with a layer-by-layer (LbL) coating methods, which covers surfaces with molecules of alternative positive and negative charges. Previous LbL methods created a very sticky film, causing the medication delivery time to last 15 to 90 minutes. Researchers feared that this long application time would lead to non-compliance by patients.
The team from MIT, led by Paula T. Hammond, Ph.D. and her graduate students Yanpu He and Celestine Hong, solved the problem of the prior microneedle patches by designing a new pH-responsive polymer. When tested in mice, this microneedle treatment produced nine times the antibody level compared to intramuscular injections and 160 times the antibody level compared to subcutaneous injections. They saw similar results when testing surgical samples of human skin.
In a statement from ACS, Yanpu He stated: “Our patch has a unique chemical coating and mode of action that allows it to be applied and removed from the skin in just a minute while still delivering a therapeutic dose of drugs. Our patches elicit a robust antibody response in living mice and show promise in eliciting a strong immune response in human skin.”
Hammond and her team are excited for the patch’s use by oncologists to fight melanoma, in addition to its use in fighting infectious diseases. Hammond told ACS reporters that, “We are using low-cost chemistry and a simple fabrication scheme to transform vaccination. Ultimately, we want to get a device approved and on the market.”