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Hollow microneedle devices as a technology for interstitial fluid extraction show promise for the minimally invasive point-of-care detection of analytes. Despite increasing efforts toward on-patch diagnostics, the use of hollow microneedles has been limited due to the complexity caused by integrating hollow microneedles with established point-of-care diagnostic techniques. Herein, a 3D printing method is utilized, to provide low-cost manufacturing of custom-designed hollow microneedle devices, allowing for easy integration with lateral flow assays for rapid and blood-free diagnostics. Microneedle surface modification through PEGylation results in prolonged and enhanced hydrophilicity, enabling passive uptake of small volume samples (≈22.5 µL) and an enhanced shelf life. The hollow microneedle devices are deemed non-cytotoxic to cell types found within the skin following short-term and prolonged exposure in accordance with ISO10993. Furthermore, the devices demonstrate high mechanical strength and successfully penetrate porcine skin grafts without damaging the surrounding skin morphology. This work also demonstrates for the first time the use of hollow microneedles for the simultaneous detection, at clinically relevant concentrations, of C-reactive protein (LoD = 10 µg mL−1) and procalcitonin (LoD = 1 ng mL−1), through porcine skin, ultimately demonstrating the beneficial use of manufactured 3D-printed hollow microneedles towards low-cost blood-free diagnostics of inflammation markers.
Original languageEnglish
Article number2300259
Number of pages11
JournalAdvanced Materials Technologies
Issue number16
Early online date4 May 2023
Publication statusPublished - 25 Aug 2023

Bibliographical note

J.G.T. and H.S.L thank Abbott Diabetes Care Ltd. and EPSRC EP/R513155/1 for their funding support. H.S.L. acknowledges the EPSRC EP/V010859/1, EP/V051083/1 and the Royal Society Research Grant RSG∖R1∖201185 for their support. The authors thank Prof Richard Guy for the important discussions and donation of porcine skin. The authors thank the Department of Chemistry at the University of Bath for allowing us the use of equipment in their facility. The authors acknowledge the reviewers contributions through their feedback during review.

Data Availability Statement
The data that support the findings of this study are openly available in Dataset for “3D Printed Hollow Microneedle-Lateral Flow Devices for Rapid Blood-free Diagnostics” at https://researchdata.bath.ac.uk/id/eprint/1233, reference number 1233.


  • 3D printing
  • biocompatibility
  • hollow microneedles
  • inflammation markers
  • rapid diagnostics
  • skin penetration

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Mechanics of Materials
  • General Materials Science
  • Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering


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