A team of researchers from Singapore has developed a new technique that can be used to “take medicine” through the skin. And their technology looks incredibly simple – a clip made of two magnets. It is believed that everyone had painful memories of being accidentally caught in a clip when they were young, but scientists have turned it into a new drug delivery technique.
Researchers demonstrate a prototype of this technology (Photo: NTU Singapore)
They found that when the skin was caught by two magnets, it took just a few minutes to change. Originally appeared to be “iron plate piece” of skin, there will also be literally “loopholes.”
These holes in the skin were observed to be about 3 square microns in size. It sounds mini, but it’s enough for the drug molecule to go through these holes and spread through the body. The researchers used mice to do an experiment, using magnets to clamp the skin on the back of the mice. If you want to deliver slowly, just hold it for a minute. If you want to deliver faster, clip it for a few more minutes to create more skin holes.
It was found that the drug spread more easily in mice with clips on the skin, and the amount of drugs in the mice was 6 times higher than in the control group (no clippings) ! Compared with another “micro-needle” technology, the effect of the clip is relatively close.
After a day, these holes will disappear without long-term effects.
The researchers also point out that the novel technique could be used in many different drug types. Small molecule drugs, large to protein drugs or nanoparticles, can penetrate the skin in this way.
Scientists soon thought that the technology had a wide range of potential applications. At present, many drugs need to be injected to enter the body, and injections often cause discomfort. This is a greater burden in patients who need frequent injections, such as diabetics who need insulin injections.
So can this “clip” help these patients from frequent injections?
Photo credit: PixaBay.
To answer this question, the scientists took mice into another experiment. Studies showed that after the clip was clamped, insulin entered the mice and reduced blood sugar by 80 percent in diabetic mice.
It is worth mentioning that insulin is a macromolecule with a molecular weight of up to 20,000 Daltons. Being able to administer drugs across the skin is not easy. Official reports also point out that the largest molecular weight of the cross-skin drugs reported in the literature is about 500 Daltons. In other words, the technology increases the size of deliverable drugs by 40 times!
“Our research project is inspired by the ‘push’ of traditional medicine.” Dr. Daniel Chin Shiuan Lio of the study said. In the future, scientists also plan to further polish the technology to assess its future in humans.