Microneedle Patch Delivers Antibiotics for Skin Infections

Microneedle Patch Delivers Antibiotics for Skin Infections

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), skin and soft tissue infections caused by methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) are becoming increasingly common. A typical treatment for these types of infection is intravenous (IV) injection of antibiotics, one of which is oftentimes a specific drug called vancomycin.

Vancomycin is administered systemically because it is poorly absorbed through the gut when ingested orally and cannot penetrate the skin well when applied topically. However, IV vancomycin can be problematic as it can cause significant side effects. Further, even when high doses are injected, the concentration of the drug in the skin remains relatively low, increasing the likelihood of antibiotic resistance. Therefore, there is an unmet clinical need for local delivery of vancomycin to the skin.

Now, scientists at Karolinska Institutet in Sweden have developed an innovative microneedle patch that contains miniature needles made from a polymer loaded with vancomycin. This patch is applied directly to the site of infection and the tiny needles penetrate the skin to release the drug and kill the pathogenic bacteria. This causes less side effects than systemic vancomycin treatment and provides the ability to control the amount of drug delivered to the skin. As a bonus, the microneedles are so short that they do not reach the pain receptors, making treatment with the patch relatively painless compared to a traditional IV injection.

Interestingly, microneedles were voted one of the top ten emerging technologies by the World Economic Forum last year. They are already being used for other clinical applications such as vaccine delivery and pain relief, and it’s likely that antibiotic administration will soon be added to that list.

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