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Fujifilm seeks pharma collaborators to develop new dissolvable microneedles

By Natalie Morrison , 21-Nov-2012
Last updated on 21-Nov-2012 at 13:47 GMT

Fujifilm has developed a new “pain-free” alternative to hypodermic needles which delivers drugs through a sheet of material covered in tiny dissolvable needles.

The technology – named the micro-needle array – uses a sheet “arrayed” with drug loaded needles made up of polysaccharides sized between 100-2000 micrometers. When the sheet is attached to the skin, the micro-needles penetrate the surface then dissolve, thereby delivering the drug.

The firm says the discovery is a breakthrough in drug delivery, as previous array methods use non-dissolvable micro-needles which could break-off in the body.

Speaking to in-PharmaTechnologist.com, Masamichi Okui of the business planning division said: “Micro-Needle array will not cause pain like an injection, therefore, this method may become a new administration method for efficiently delivering the drug to affected areas or targeted area of the body.”

In terms of production, he added that the arrays can be designed and mass-produced with needles of “any desired length or form”.

The micro-needle array loaded with pigment

The firm is now developing equipment to manufacture micro-needle arrays for investigational new drugs, and is seeking other pharma manufacturers for collaboration.

The future

The project is still in early phase testing, with trials so far conducted in-animal. However Masamichi told us the first in-human trials are expected towards the end of 2013.

And though he said he “could not answer any specific date for this product to be on the market,” Masamichi said vaccines and hormones have so far been the products of choice in development.

In a statement, Fujifilm said the tech has even proven to be more efficacious in vaccine and hormone delivery. “The experiments of vaccine administration have already proved to generate the same amount of or more antibodies than an injection,” it said.

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