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MIT researcher develops new microneedle to painlessly monitor immune system

Researcher Anasuya Mandal from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has developed new microneedle, which can painlessly monitor the immune system.

Tiny cones or microneedles are attached to a small patch, which is applied to the surface of the skin like a band-aid. They will be used for the medication and vaccine delivery.

The device, which was developed by Mandal, features 70% to 80% plastic microneedles with 0.6mm long. It is coated with a dehydrated hydrogel.

Microneedle will be attached to a clear plastic disc with 1cm across.

When the device is applied to the skin, the microneedle will penetrate into the dermis, which is below the protective top layer of the skin.

Mandal said: “It feels like a Lego block that’s pressed up against your skin.

“It takes maybe a day or two to regenerate the skin, and you might not even have any redness, inflammation, or swelling.”

According to MIT, one application of Mandal’s research is for people with autoimmune diseases such as lupus who must use medication to manage disease flares.

Flares can be anticipated by an increase in certain biomarkers that are currently monitored with monthly blood draws.

These biomarkers can also be found in the interstitial fluid, which is the target of Mandal’s microneedle device.

The dehydrated hydrogel on the microneedles absorbs the fluid, which can be separated and used for analysis.

Mandal is currently testing the new device on mice, and is planning to test the device on larger animals.

Image: Researcher Anasuya Mandal has developed new microneedle technology. Photo: courtesy of Casey Atkins.