Smart patch could make insulin delivery less painful for people with diabetes

Jack Woodfield
Mon, 16 Jul 2018
Smart patch could make insulin delivery less painful for people with diabetes
A glucose monitoring patch is being developed which would deliver insulin through microneedles.

Dubbed the 'smart patch', scientists say the device could "revolutionise" diabetes treatments and make insulin delivery less invasive.

The patch would monitor blood sugar levels and use a collection of 0.7mm, silicon-based, hollow needles to administer insulin. The needles penetrate the top layer of skin containing no nerve cells or blood vessels, resulting in a pain-free injection.

The monitoring system would be linked to a smartphone and inform the user when insulin needs to be delivered.

Scientists at Swansea University are currently focusing on the development of microneedles, which they aim to manufacture within two years.

Professor Owen Guy, the head of chemistry at Swansea University, said: "There are very few hollow microneedles being developed and certainly very few on the market. I think that's because it is particularly challenging to develop a hollow micro needle with a sharp tip.

"The sharpness of the tip determines how easy it is to penetrate the skin and the efficacy of the injection and therefore the efficacy of the delivery of the drug into the skin."

Prof Guy said his team was close to producing prototype needles, which would cost less than £1 when mass produced.

"These have already been tested and shown to be very effective. But there's still a lot to do before we go into clinical trials and then develop a product such as an insulin delivery system.

"Injecting the right volume of dose is really important and controlling a dose through a combined delivery system and diagnostic system - that's the future. It would be a wearable patch system, probably replaced on a daily basis."

The microneedles have the opportunity to be adopted across healthcare and could be used to inject vaccines, according to the developers.

Prof Guy and his team are working with SPTS Technologies, based in Newport, on the development of the microneedles.
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