Microneedles: an emerging transdermal drug delivery system


Shital H. Bariya, Department of Pharmaceutics and Pharmaceutical Technology, Institute of Pharmacy, Nirma University, S. G. Highway, Ahmedabad-382 481, Gujarat, India. E-mail: shital_26@yahoo.com


Objectives  One of the thrust areas in drug delivery research is transdermal drug delivery systems (TDDS) due to their characteristic advantages over oral and parenteral drug delivery systems. Researchers have focused their attention on the use of microneedles to overcome the barrier of the stratum corneum. Microneedles deliver the drug into the epidermis without disruption of nerve endings. Recent advances in the development of microneedles are discussed in this review for the benefit of young scientists and to promote research in the area.

Key findings  Microneedles are fabricated using a microelectromechanical system employing silicon, metals, polymers or polysaccharides. Solid coated microneedles can be used to pierce the superficial skin layer followed by delivery of the drug. Advances in microneedle research led to development of dissolvable/degradable and hollow microneedles to deliver drugs at a higher dose and to engineer drug release. Iontophoresis, sonophoresis and electrophoresis can be used to modify drug delivery when used in concern with hollow microneedles. Microneedles can be used to deliver macromolecules such as insulin, growth hormones, immunobiologicals, proteins and peptides. Microneedles containing ‘cosmeceuticals’ are currently available to treat acne, pigmentation, scars and wrinkles, as well as for skin tone improvement.

Summary  Literature survey and patents filled revealed that microneedle-based drug delivery system can be explored as a potential tool for the delivery of a variety of macromolecules that are not effectively delivered by conventional transdermal techniques.