Researchers have developed a new technique to produce a 3D 'micro-printed' array of needles capable of drug delivery. The technique would offer a pain-free drug delivery device that would allow drugs to diffuse within the body as the biomaterial device degrades in the body. This offers treatments for a wide range of diseases, including melanoma cancers. The results are published in the journal Biofabrication.
The researchers report producing a drug-loaded array for transdermal delivery of a chemotherapeutic drug, fabricated using microstereolithography. The arrays consisted of 25 poly(propylene fumarate) microneedles, each needle having a tip and base diameter of 20 µm and 200 µm, respectively, and a height of 1 mm.
Dacarbazine, commonly used to treat skin cancer, was blended into the solution prior to crosslinking (a final part of the 3D printing process). The needles were then tested and shown to be able to withstand the stresses and strains they would likely be submitted to when inserted into the body.
Drug-release profiles remain a challenge for the future, the researchers said. "We'd like to have a faster drug release, but this will require more material research. Once we improve this process we can look at developing more controlled drug release."