Microneedle Patches in Developing Nations 

Subject: Science
Type: Informative Essay
Pages: 8
Word count: 2264
Topics: Biotechnology, Engineering, Medicine, Public Health, Vaccine

Many individuals die annually, particularly in developing nations, an approach that could be largely avoided through the delivery of various forms of drugs such as vaccines. Many medicines such as vaccines are observed to be delivered through injection, which has proven to be an effective and fast approach to the administration of drugs to patients in developing nations. The introduction of Expanded Program on Immunization (EPI) has increased the number of individuals that are administrated with vaccines in developing nations. A possible solution to increase the effectiveness of the program includes the use of microneedle patches that have been proposed as viable replacements to hypodermic needles. Microneedle patches comprise of a range of micro-sized needles that are placed on an adhesive backing to facilitate the delivery of vaccines and other medicines to patients through the skin. 

Microneedle patches have been proposed as a replacement to the commonly utilized hypodermic injections that have been observed to comprise irritant, painful and unhygienic approaches to the administration of drugs in the contemporary world. However, there is an emerging need in developing nations to develop an approach to the administration of drugs, which results in less irritation and results in comfort to the wearer (Arya & Prausnitz, 2016). The recent reports on the microneedle patches approve the effectiveness of the needle as a viable replacement to the hypodermic needle. Microneedle patches consists of stainless steel needles that are integrated into a soft polymer base. This presents a unique and ideal combination of materials in the manufacture of needles in the contemporary medical world. 

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Microneedle patches has illustrated the potential of formulating a transformative technology. Around 13 million people globally have been identified to inject drugs in the contemporary world. Around 1.7 million individuals are living with HIV. Moreover, it is important to note that around 10% of HIV infections result from injections and over 70% of the new infections are observed in Africa, which constitutes of developing nations (“People who inject drugs”, 2017). Moreover, different diseases such as hepatitis constitute the diseases that are spread through injections in developing nations with hepatitis C recording a prevalence of 67% in people that inject drugs (“People who inject drugs”, 2017). These statistics reveal the need for the development of suitable approaches to the delivery of drugs through injections to replace hypodermic needles. 

Microneedle patches have been observed to present a comfortable and effective approach the administration of drugs result in more effective penetration and administration of the drugs to patients. Subsequently, there is minimal wastage of drugs thus resulting in savings, which are much needed in the developing world (Arya & Prausnitz, 2016). Microneedle patches have been acknowledged for the diverse uses in the attainment of healthcare delivery goals. Microneedle patches comprise of a soft and flexible base, which is laced with stainless steel microneedles. The elastomer base has been noted to permit the effective contact between the complex topography of the underlying skin and the stainless-steel microneedles, which safeguards the inner layers of the skin that are much delicate, including the nerves. The unobtrusive stretchable and flexible patches that are placed on the skin are acknowledged for their extensive potential to permit the transmission of signals and transdermal bio-interfacing that can be employed in diverse applications such as bioelectric treatments, transdermal drug delivery and the production of wearable bioelectronics for fitness and health monitoring (Rajabi et al., 2016). Consequently, the use of microneedles is bound to minimize the equipment that is required for the administration of treatments in developing nations. In addition, the early identification of infections and health monitoring is going to reduce the healthcare spending on the administration of treatments through early identification and treatment procedures. 

In contrast to hypodermic needles and epidermal patches, microneedles are observed to penetrate the upper layer of the skin to just the correct level to prevent the contact of needles with the nerves. This is bound to facilitate the delivery of drugs and communication of different psychological signals that are suitable for fitness monitoring devices and extraction of body fluids that are imperative in the monitoring of the health of different individuals through the examination of diagnostic markers such as pH and glucose levels (Sullivan et al., 2010). Moreover, the penetration of microneedle patches can also permit the examination of different skin reactions thus facilitating the treatment of the skin through bioelectric and cosmetic treatments. 

Many of the microneedle arrays that are being manufactured and tested in the contemporary world constitute monoliths, which are comprised of microneedle patches where the needles and the supporting base are comprised of the same material, usually a stiff and hard material. This allows the microneedles to penetrate the skin, however, they have been linked with increased discomfort to the wearer (Tissone, 2016). Softer materials have been proposed for the manufacture of microneedle parches to increase the comfort. However, it is important to note that soft materials are bound to be less effective in the penetration of skin. The use of stretchable patches that comprise of stiff and sharp needles is yet to be explored in the contemporary world. 

The introduction of a successful microneedle patch is bound to have a significant impact on healthcare delivery. For instance, microneedle patches may minimize the number of times chronically ill individuals are required to take their daily injections. This is bound to minimize the opportunistic infections that affect chronically ill individuals due to the increased piercing of their bodies using hypodermic needles. Moreover, this has been linked with an increased comfort of individuals that are chronically ill (“Painless microneedle patch could replace needles”, 2017). 

Microneedle patches do not come into contact with the patients’ bloodstreams. Subsequently, patients are at a lower risk of getting infections. This has been observed to be an imperative approach in developing nations that are observed to lack the proper healthcare equipment to curb the evolution of opportunistic infections and diseases as a result of the use of hypodermic needles. Hypodermic needles are required to come into direct contact with the individual’s bloodstream as they deliver the medicine directly to the individual’s bloodstream. Consequently, the approach has been observed to result in infections in the patients that utilize the needled (Prausnitz, 2017). The use of microneedle patches is bound to reduce the infections resulting from injections and administration of drugs through injections resulting in a more hygienic approach to drug delivery in patients. 

Microneedle patched have been credited to be painless, moreover, some designs have been developed to prevent the development of sharps waste on the skin after use. Subsequently, the use of microneedle designs is bound to increase the interest of individuals in the reception of the drug. Hypodermic needled have been loathed by numerous people due to the result of pain in the patients during the reception of the drugs (Wu, Yang, Yuan & Jin, 2012). The painless nature of microneedles will increase the numbers of individuals that are immunized against different diseases that have been credited with numerous deaths in developing nations. 

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Many of the microneedle patches constitute a single dose that does not demand reconstitution (Tissone, 2016). Many developing nations observe a scarcity in the number of hospitals and medical healthcare centers. Therefore, patients have to travel long distances to access medical professionals and healthcare centers. This has limited the delivery of healthcare t individuals in developing nations that are unwilling or unable to access healthcare facilities regularly. The use of microneedle patches has been proposed as a viable approach to increasing the completion of doses, particularly vaccine doses, which the study observes will lead to a decrease in the child mortality rates in developing nations. 

Microneedle patches are small, subsequently, they can be easily transported to different populations in developing nations. The decrease in the bulkiness of the medical supplies has been projected to increase the delivery of sufficient medical supplies to individuals in developing nations. Many roads and transport facilities in developing nations are in deplorable condition (Wu, Yang, Yuan & Jin, 2012). Hence, the introduction of microneedles is bound to increase the provision of medical supplies to different medical centers in developing nations. 

The small nature of the microneedles has been projected to ease the storage of medical supplies since the microneedles occupy less space in comparison to hypodermic needles. Microneedles, thus, can be stored through an extended period of time and in increased quantities thus decreasing the need for regular trips to healthcare centers that are positioned in interior regions that may be inaccessible through different means of transport or have limited accessibility due to the security risk that the individuals transporting the medical supplies face (Tissone, 2016). Moreover, the microneedles are suitable for small healthcare centers that may lack an expansive storage area. 

Microneedles have also been associated with easier waste disposal in comparison to hypodermic needles. The use of microneedles will ease the disposal of needles and reduce the spread of diseases to individuals that come into contact with needles. The use of hypodermic needles has been associated with the spread of different diseases and infections such as HIV and hepatitis. The poor disposal of hypodermic needles has been observed to trigger the reuse of the needles by different parties in developing nations such as drug users. The reuse of hypodermic needles then results in sharing of the needles that leads to the spread of diseases such as HIV. In addition, individuals may be accidentally pricked by the poorly disposed needles thus acquiring any infections and diseases that may be present in the blood that came into contact with the needle (Sullivan et al., 2010). Microneedles are impossible to reuse for the administration of drugs and other substances into the human body. Hence, they are bound to minimize the spread of diseases and infections to individuals in the developing world. 

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Microneedles have been linked to an increase in dose sparing, which is going to reduce the healthcare spending in developing nations. Developing nations lack sufficient funds to optimize their healthcare, thus, dose sparing is bound to ensure that all the healthcare centers and individuals in developing nations are supplied with sufficient drugs through reducing wastage of drugs. The use of microneedles has been associated with the increased efficiency of absorption of drugs in the bodies of different patients. The reduction in drug wastage is going to increase the affordability of healthcare both to individuals and the government. 

Microneedle patches offer a range of technologies for drug delivery. For instance, the four primary forms of microneedles include hollow needles that demand the formulation of a liquid that is infused via the bores. Moreover, microneedles also allow the development of solid microneedles that pierce holes through the skin where the patch is employed. Dissolving microneedles can also be coated with the drug and infused through the skin to allow effective delivery of the drug. Finally, polymer microneedles are comprised of different non-dissolving and dissolving microneedles. Therefore, it is evident that microneedles offer an array of options for healthcare professionals to facilitate the delivery of drugs to patients, including the delivery of different drugs that are in varying forms (Rajabi et al., 2016). Every case offers an ideal delivery route that enhances the effectiveness of the drugs and vaccines that are delivered to patients through microneedles. 

Microneedles have the ability to target the rich network that is composed of immunologic antigen-possessing cells that are present in both the dermis and the epidermis layers positioned in the skin. The contemporary studies have revealed the advantageous nature of microneedles due to their stronger stability and effectiveness of dose delivery in comparison to intermuscular routes that are explored using hypodermic needles. 

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From the discussion, there are different advantages that have been acknowledged associated with the proposed use of microneedles in the developing world. The use of microneedles will decrease the wastage and improve the efficiency of drug delivery into the patients’ blood stream. One of the primary advantages that have been associated with the decreased size of microneedles, include the ease of transportation, storage and disposal of microneedles. These are major advantages of microneedles and microneedle use in the developing nations since it will lead to increased hygienic use of microneedles inn developing nations. Considering human factors, microneedles are painless, thus, they will encourage people to seek medical services and assistance to counter different infections. Therefore, microneedles present a viable replacement to hypodermic needles that are common in healthcare facilities in developing nations. 

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  1. Arya, J., & Prausnitz, M. (2016). Microneedle patches for vaccination in developing countries. Journal of Controlled Release, 240, 135-141. 
  2. Painless microneedle patch could replace needles. (2017). ScienceDaily. 
  3. People who inject drugs. (2017). World Health Organization. 
  4. Prausnitz, M. (2017). Engineering Microneedle Patches for Vaccination and Drug Delivery to Skin. Annual Review of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, 8(1), 177-200. 
  5. Rajabi, M., Roxhed, N., Shafagh, R., Haraldson, T., Fischer, A., & Wijngaart, W. et al. (2016). Flexible and Stretchable Microneedle Patches with Integrated Rigid Stainless-Steel Microneedles for Transdermal Biointerfacing. PLOS ONE, 11(12), e0166330. 
  6. Rajabi, M., Roxhed, N., Shafagh, R., Haraldson, T., Fischer, A., & Wijngaart, W. et al. (2016). Flexible and Stretchable Microneedle Patches with Integrated Rigid Stainless-Steel Microneedles for Transdermal Biointerfacing. PLOS ONE, 11(12), e0166330. 
  7. Sullivan, S., Koutsonanos, D., del Pilar Martin, M., Lee, J., Zarnitsyn, V., & Choi, S. et al. (2010). Dissolving polymer microneedle patches for influenza vaccination. Nature Medicine, 16(8), 915-920. 
  8. Tissone, L. (2016). Microneedle Patches Enable Superior Drug Delivery. Medical Design Technology. 
  9. Wu, F., Yang, S., Yuan, W., & Jin, T. (2012). Challenges and Strategies in Developing Microneedle Patches for Transdermal Delivery of Protein and Peptide Therapeutics. Current Pharmaceutical Biotechnology, 13(7), 1292-1298. 
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