The biodegradable microneedle patch delivers gene therapy applications. (Credit: Terasaki Institute)

An ideal gene delivery approach must be able to deliver the genetic material without producing inflammation or toxicity in the body and should be able to penetrate the skin layer effectively. A research team has recently published an approach based on microneedles that meets these challenges.

The microneedles are made of a biocompatible material mixed with nanoparticles containing therapeutic genes. This mixture can be molded into a microneedle patch array for application to the skin. The microneedles are biodegradable, so once they have penetrated the skin, they will release the nanoparticles upon needle degradation. Moreover, the timing and sustainability of this release can be controlled by adjustments in the biomaterial preparation.

The development of these microneedles illustrates the potential for similar gene delivery systems to provide a more effective way to treat skin and other cancers, skin-related cosmetic needs, or diseases such as psoriasis and muscular dystrophy. It can even be used as a method for vaccine delivery against such diseases as skin or breast cancer, influenza, or COVID-19.

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