Researchers at Purdue University have just developed a new treatment option for melanoma: a skin patch that is capable of providing continuous chemotherapy.
Making 10% of the skin cancers diagnosed each year, melanoma is the most severe and deadly form of skin cancer, as it can metastasize quickly. It occurs in 70-80% of cases on healthy skin or results from the malignant transformation of a birthmark but can be cured in 88% of cases if diagnosed early.
Patients then have two treatment options: conventional chemo and radiotherapy and topical chemotherapy. In the former case, the toxicity of the products used and the extent of the side effects may make the treatment difficult to tolerate. As far as topical chemotherapies are concerned, their widespread use is hampered both by the pain associated with micro-needles and by the rapid dissolution of the polymers used in the treatments.
Researchers at Purdue University in Indiana may have found a less invasive and unpleasant alternative for the treatment of melanoma: a skin patch with silicone needles.
A painless treatment in the long term
In an article published in ACS Nano magazine, they describe their invention in detail. “We have developed a new wearable patch with fully miniaturized needles that allow discreet delivery of drugs through the skin for the treatment of skin cancer,” said Chi Hwan Lee, assistant professor of biomedicine and engineering at Purdue University. This patch is unique in that it can be completely dissolved by body fluids in a programmable manner, so that the dressing substrate is dissolved within one minute of the needles being inserted into the skin, followed by the gradual dissolution of the silicone needles in the tissue within a few months”.
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The adhesive’s bioresorbable silicon nanoneedles are inserted into a thin, flexible, and water-soluble medical film, which can dissolve quickly and completely in one minute after the nano-needles are inserted.
The painless nanoneedles are able to administer chemotherapeutic agents and target melanoma in a sustainable manner. The needles are also resorbed within a few months.
“The uniqueness of our technology stems from the fact that we have used extremely small but durable silicone nanoneedles with sharpened angular tips that penetrate the skin painlessly and are minimally invasive,” says Professor Lee.
According to his team, this slow and gradual dissolution of the silicone needles could enable treatments for other cancers besides melanoma.