Pharmaceutical researchers have discovered how ‘medical tattoos’ implanted with microneedles in the skin could offer a new means of measuring health parameters in real-time.
Microneedles are needles that are so short (typically less than 0.5mm in length) that their penetration is painless.
The researchers discussed their results at the International Pharmaceutical Federation’s 2020 pharmaceutical sciences world congress.
The researchers demonstrated that they could optimize a fluorescent agent for use in the skin, create dissolving microneedles, formulate the agent to be compatible for distribution via the microneedles, and calculate the rate of lymphatic drainage, which is an indication of lymphoedema.
Pharmaceutical scientists have been researching their use for the distribution of drugs and vaccines for many years, but researchers from the Faculty of Pharmacy at the University of Montreal, Canada, are working with polymeric microneedles providing an agent that produces a fluorescent signal that can be tested with a portable detector in a point-of-care or home environment.
However, the researchers noted that additional research is being conducted with agents that interfere with physiological analytes in the skin, such as reactive oxygen species (an indication of inflammation).
“The skin — the largest organ in the human body — contains a wealth of health-related material, and microneedles could help us access it,” said Sam Babity, a PhD student at the university’s pharmaceutical micro and nanotechnology laboratory.