Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) researchers have developed a fast-acting skin patch that efficiently delivers medication to attack cells in melanoma - a deadly form of skin cancer.
Topical ointments can impart medications to the skin, but they can only penetrate a small distance through it. While syringes are an effective drug delivery mode, they can be painful. Syringes can also be inconvenient for patients, leading to non-compliance.
"Our patch has a unique chemical coating and mode of action that allows it to be applied and removed from the skin in just a minute while still delivering a therapeutic dose of drugs," says Yanpu He, a graduate student who helped develop the device.
The researchers believe that the skin patch, tested in mice and human skin samples, is an advance toward developing a vaccine to treat melanoma, a deadly form of skin cancer.
"Our patches elicit a robust antibody response in living mice and show promise in eliciting a strong immune response in human skin," He said.
Using chicken ovalbumin as a model antigen, the team vaccinated mice with their patches and compared the results with intramuscular and subcutaneous injections.
The microneedle treatment produced nine times the antibody level compared to intramuscular injections (used for flu shots) and 160 times the antibody level compared to subcutaneous injections (used for measles vaccines). They also saw efficient immune activation in surgical samples of human skin.
"Our patch technology could be used to deliver vaccines to combat different infectious diseases," said Paula T. Hammond from MIT.
"But we are excited by the possibility that the patch is another tool in the oncologists' arsenal against cancer, specifically melanoma," Hammond said.
The findings are scheduled to be presented at the American Chemical Society (ACS) Fall 2019 National Meeting and Exposition being held in San Diego, California, from August 25-29.
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