Researchers at Purdue University have developed a new flexible and translucent base for silicon nanoneedle patches to deliver exact drug doses directly into cells and expand observational opportunities.
The researchers say skin cancer could be one of the applications for the patches.
"This means that eight or nine silicon nanoneedles can be injected into a single cell without significantly damaging a cell. So we can use these nanoneedles to deliver biomolecules into cells or even tissues with minimal invasiveness," said Chi Hwan Lee, Assistant Professor at Purdue University.
Silicon nanoneedles patches are currently placed between skin, muscles or tissues where they deliver exact doses of biomolecules.
Commercially available silicon nanoneedles patches are usually constructed on a rigid and opaque silicon wafer.
The rigidity can cause discomfort and cannot be left in the body very long.
"These qualities are exactly opposite to the flexible, curved and soft surfaces of biological cells or tissues," Lee said, adding that they have now resolved this problem.
"We developed a method that enables physical transfer of vertically ordered silicon nanoneedles from their original silicon wafer to a bio-patch," Lee informed.
This nanoneedle patch is not only flexible but also transparent and, therefore, can also allow simultaneous real-time observation of the interaction between cells and nanoneedles, said the study appeared in the journal Science Advances.
The teams from South Korea's Hanyang University and Purdue's Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering and School of Mechanical Engineering received joint support from the United States Air Force Office of Scientific Research and the Korean Ministry of Science and ICT to complete this study.
The researchers hope to develop the patch's functionality to act as an external skin patch, lowering the pain, invasiveness and toxicity associated with long-term drug delivery.