Microneedle-based drug delivery systems: Microfabrication, drug delivery, and safety

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Many promising therapeutic agents are limited by their inability to reach the systemic circulation, due to the excellent barrier properties of biological membranes, such as the stratum corneum (SC) of the skin or the sclera/cornea of the eye and others. The outermost layer of the skin, the SC, is the principal barrier to topically-applied medications. The intact SC thus provides the main barrier to exogenous substances, including drugs. Only drugs with very specific physicochemical properties (molecular weight <500 Da, adequate lipophilicity, and low melting point) can be successfully administered transdermally. Transdermal delivery of hydrophilic drugs and macromolecular agents of interest, including peptides, DNA, and small interfering RNA is problematic. Therefore, facilitation of drug penetration through the SC may involve by-pass or reversible disruption of SC molecular architecture. Microneedles (MNs), when used to puncture skin, will by-pass the SC and create transient aqueous transport pathways of micron dimensions and enhance the transdermal permeability. These micropores are orders of magnitude larger than molecular dimensions, and, therefore, should readily permit the transport of hydrophilic macromolecules. Various strategies have been employed by many research groups and pharmaceutical companies worldwide, for the fabrication of MNs. This review details various types of MNs, fabrication methods and, importantly, investigations of clinical safety of MN.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)187-207
Number of pages21
JournalDrug Delivery
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2010

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmaceutical Science


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