Potential of hydrogel-forming and dissolving microneedles for use in paediatric populations

Ester Caffarel-Salvador, Tuan-Mazlelaa Tuan-Mahmood, James C. McElnay, Helen O McCarthy, Karen Mooney, A.David Woolfson, Ryan F. Donnelly

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Citations (Scopus)


Development of formulations and drug delivery strategies for paediatric use is challenging, partially due to the age ranges within this population, resulting in varying requirements to achieve optimised patient outcomes. Although the oral route of drug delivery remains the preferred option, there are problematic issues, such as difficulty swallowing and palatability of medicines specific to this population. The parenteral route is not well accepted by children due to needle-related fear and pain. Accordingly, a plethora of alternative routes of drug administration have been investigated. Microneedles (MN) breach the stratum corneum (SC), the outermost layer of skin, increasing the number of drug substances amenable to transdermal delivery. This strategy involves the use of micron-sized needles to painlessly, and without drawing blood, create transient aqueous conduits in the SC. In this study, polymeric dissolving MN and hydrogel-forming MN were fabricated incorporating two model drugs commonly used in paediatric patients (caffeine and lidocaine hydrochloride). The potential efficacy of these MN for paediatric dosing was investigated via in vitro and in vivo studies. Views pertaining to MN technology were sought amongst school children in Northern Ireland, members of the UK general public and UK-based paediatricians, to determine perceived benefits, acceptance, barriers and concerns for adoption of this technology. In this study, polymeric MN were shown to substantially enhance skin permeability of the model therapeutic molecules in vitro and in vivo. In particular, hydrogel-forming MN led to a 6.1-fold increase in caffeine delivery whilst lidocaine HCl delivery was increased by 3.3-fold using dissolving MN in vitro. Application of caffeine-loaded MN led to a caffeine plasma concentration of 23.87μg/mL in rats at 24h. This research also highlighted a strong consensus regarding MN technology amongst schoolchildren, paediatricians and the general public, regarding potential use of MN in the paediatric population. Overall, 93.6% of general public respondents and 85.9% of paediatricians regarded the use of MN as a positive approach.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)158-169
Number of pages12
JournalInternational Journal of Pharmaceutics
Issue number1-2
Early online date01 May 2015
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jul 2015


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