Microneedles Change how Medicine is Delivered
Microneedles, which consist of tiny spikes measuring just 0.1mm-1.0mm in length, are manufactured using techniques adapted from the computer chip industry. Arrays of microneedles will be worn in the style of a discreet band-aid or skin patch, where they will penetrate the skin and release a drug or vaccine into the body. Microneedle devices will be used to treat conditions ranging from diabetes to osteoporosis, and will play a major role in low-cost public health management activities such as the annual flu vaccination programme. Best of all, the microscopic nature of the devices means that they are completely painless to wear, and users will no longer need to attend a doctor’s surgery for needle-based injections.
The Microneedles 2012 Conference is hosted by the Tyndall National Institute and University College Cork, who are suppliers of world-leading silicon microneedle technology to a wide range of global academic and industrial partners. Almost 60 companies will also be represented at the event, which is supported by Science Foundation Ireland and Enterprise Ireland.
The conference was opened by Mr Seán Sherlock TD, Minister of State, Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation with responsibility for Research & Innovation and Department of Education & Skills. Minister Sherlock said “The medical technologies industry is key to the Irish economy. Ireland is globally recognised as a major centre of excellence in the medical technologies sector and on a par with some of the world’s leading MedTech centres. We have world-class, highly innovative Irish companies that are designing and delivering complex medical devices and services throughout the world. Microneedle technology is a tangible example of the pioneering research being conducted across life sciences on Irish soil today that will provide major societal benefits and, critically, significantly improved patient outcomes. The Government has initiated an unprecedented push towards jobs creation. I am pleased to say that our Action Plan for Jobs, published earlier this year, encompasses a research and development strand at its nucleus. Chief among these actions is the implementation of a Research Prioritisation Exercise, which focuses on areas of credible employment potential and the commercialisation of research. Among the priority areas identified are therapeutics, including synthesis formulation, processing and drug delivery; medical devices and diagnostics”.
The conference is chaired by Dr Conor O’Mahony, Microneedle Research Manager at the Tyndall National Institute. Commenting on the impact of the Microneedles 2012 event, Dr O’Mahony said that the large and diverse attendance reflected the enormous potential of the technology and that microneedle-based devices should be on the market within just a few years, garnering a share of the $30billion transdermal delivery market.