Development of hydrogel-forming microneedle array patches for transdermal protein biomarker sampling

  • Achmad Himawan

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


The rapid and minimally invasive sampling and detection of biomarkers related to infectious diseases, including those caused by coronaviruses, are critical for timely diagnosis and effective management. Microneedle array patches (MAPs) for transdermal diagnosis have emerged asa promising alternative with potential applications throughout all stages of coronavirus infections. Among the various types of MAPs, hydrogel-forming MAPs (HFMAPs) offer several advantages, such as ease of manufacture, utilization of relatively inexpensive materials, self-enabling capabilities, and ease of application. This thesis presents a comprehensive investigation into the development of HFMAPs for transdermal biomarker sampling, including an exploratory study aimed at sampling and detecting markers with the potential to serve as coronavirus-related infection biomarkers. The research focuses on developing HFMAPs for sampling protein biomarkers from the skin, particularly using poly(vinyl alcohol) (PVA) and poly(vinylpyrrolidone) (PVP) due to their safety, scalability, and ease of use. Initial investigations explored diacids as crosslinking agents in PVA-PVP hydrogels, identifying an optimal formulation with oxalic acid as the crosslinker. This formulation exhibited a high gel fraction, good mechanical properties, and suitable insertion capability. Subsequent research included physico chemical characterization and the addition of chitosan to enhance protein interaction properties. The fabricated HFMAPs demonstrated good mechanical properties and biomarker sampling ability, with in vitro and in vivo studies confirming biocompatibility and the capacity to collect detectable protein biomarkers, including those related to coronavirus infections. Despite valuable insights, further studies are needed to establish quantitative applicability and refine the extraction process. Future work will focus on disease models to strengthen diagnostic claims and address regulatory and patient acceptability for clinical translation, which is crucial for pandemic preparedness.

Date of AwardJul 2024
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Queen's University Belfast
SponsorsEC-Horizon 2020
SupervisorRyan Donnelly (Supervisor) & Christopher Scott (Supervisor)


  • Hydrogel
  • microneedles
  • diagnostic
  • proteomics

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