They are inspired by parasites, but a novel variety of microneedle created at Rutgers University could make injections less painful and reduce any scarring that results from their use.
The innovation comes thanks to 4D-printing, which involves smart materials that change shape over time. The needles have a barb at the end, like that found on a bee stinger, that is activated after it has pierced the skin.
This means it adheres better to the skin, allowing for a stronger connection and more effective drug delivery or fluid collection.
“We think our 4D-printed microneedle array will allow for more robust and sustained use of minimally invasive, pain-free and easy-to-use microneedles for delivering drugs, healing wounds, biosensing and other soft tissue applications,” said Assistant Professor Howon Lee of Rutgers’s Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering.
The technology is less likely to cause infection than a hypodermic needle, but 18 times stronger than a non-barbed microneedle.