IIT Kharagpur develops micro-needle, thinner than a human hair to deliver drug painlessly

Researchers from the Indian Institute of Technology at Kharagpur have developed a micro-needle, which is thinner than a human hair, and a micro-pump for injecting drugs to patients in a painless way.

The researchers from electronics and electrical communication engineering have developed the micro-pump and the micro-needle to feed into the transdermal drug delivery systems.

Transdermal drug delivery systems are designed to deliver biologically active agents through the skin, principally by diffusion in a painless process and have been in use for decades in the USA and several other countries.

The micro-needles operate by means of a pressurized and controlled micro-pump delivering the drug through the skin. The micro-pump pushes out the drug in the reservoir through the micro-needle array. The micro-needles are painless as they are too small to touch the nerves in the skin and induce painful reactions.

“We have fabricated high-strength glassy carbon micro-needles which can withstand the skin resistive forces. The micro-pump helps to increase the flow rate of the drug molecules in a controlled and precise manner. We have further integrated this micro-needle and micro-pump to achieve controlled drug delivery,” said Tarun Kanti Bhattacharyya, a professor with the electronics and electrical communication engineering department which developed the needle and the pump.

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While a human hair is around 50 – 70 micrometre thick, the micro-needle is 55 micrometre thick.

The project was funded by the union ministry of electronics and information technology and department of science and technology.

“The drug delivery device has been successfully tested with animals as per medical protocol. The researchers have also filed for a patent in India. The findings have been published in IEEE and Nature journals,” said a statement issued by IIT Kharagpur on Friday.

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