Most people dread them, but conventional hypodermic needles are often a necessary evil even if they are invasive, time-consuming, painful, complicated, and may cause infections.
So the researchers at the City University of Hong Kong (CityU) have developed a new generation of microneedles technology.
Cryomicroneedle patch is a drug delivery system that allows the intradermal delivery of living cells in a minimally invasive manner. A microneedle patch on the skin would penetrate through the skin. Then it will detach from the patch base and melt away before delivering the drugs.
These microneedles are shorter than 1mm and can deliver therapeutic cells into the skin layers. They are painless since they penetrate a very short distance into the skin, falling short of the nerve endings.
Usually, the needles are made of biodegradable polymers, but the researchers made their microneedles out of a simpler material – ice!
Using ice needles has its advantages, the most obvious is that they leave less waste and the ice can also preserve the cells for the long term. Although the requirement of freezing temperature could be a downside for shipping and storage.