Incomplete insertion is a common problem associated with polymer microneedles (MNs) that results in a limited drug delivery efficiency and wastage of valuable medication. This paper presents a fully insertable MN system that is composed of poly-γ-glutamic acid (γ-PGA) MNs and polyvinyl alcohol (PVA)/polyvinyl pyrrolidone (PVP) supporting structures. The PVA/PVP supporting structures were designed to provide an extended length for counteracting skin deformation during insertion and mechanical strength for fully inserting the MNs into the skin. When inserted into the skin, both the supporting structures and MNs can be dissolved in the skin within 4 min, thus quickly releasing the entire drug load from the MNs. To evaluate the feasibility and reproducibility of using the proposed system for treating diabetes, we administered insulin-loaded MNs to diabetic rats once daily for 2 days. The results indicated that the hypoglycemic effect in the rats receiving insulin-loaded MNs was comparable to that observed in rats receiving subcutaneous insulin injections. The relative pharmacological availability and relative bioavailability of the insulin were in the range of 90-97%, indicating that the released insulin retained its pharmacological activity. We observed no significant differences in the plasma insulin concentration profiles between the first and second administrations, confirming the stability and accuracy of using the proposed MN system for insulin delivery. These results indicated that the γ-PGA MNs containing the supporting structure design enable complete and efficient delivery of encapsulated bioactive molecules and have great potential for the relatively rapid and convenient transdermal delivery of protein drugs. Statement of Significance Incomplete insertion of microneedles largely limits drug delivery efficiency and wastage of valuable medication. To address this problem, we developed a fully insertable poly-glutamic acid microneedles with a supporting structure design to ensure complete and efficient delivery of encapsulated drugs. The supporting structures were designed to provide an extended length for counteracting skin compressive deformation during puncture and mechanical strength for fully inserting the microneedles into the skin. When inserted into the skin, both the supporting structures and microneedles can be dissolved in the skin within 4 min, thus quickly releasing the entire drug load. This study demonstrated that the proposed microneedle system featuring this unique design allows more convenient and efficient self-administration of drugs into the skin.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Biomedical Engineering
- Molecular Biology