Low temperature fabrication of biodegradable sugar glass microneedles for transdermal drug delivery applications

C J Martin, C J Allender, K R Brain, A Morrissey, J C Birchall

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119 Citations (SciVal)


Transdermal drug delivery is limited by the barrier properties of the outer skin layer. Microneedles (MNs) effectively circumvent the skin barrier to offer this route as a potential alternative to oral and parenteral delivery of therapeutics. Biodegradable microneedles offer particular advantages however processing commonly requires elevated temperatures that may adversely affect heat-labile molecules and macromolecules. In this study, solid amorphous sugar glasses containing low residual quantities of water were created by dehydration of trehalose and sucrose sugar combination solutions. Biodegradable sugar glass MNs were fabricated following optimisation of a simple and novel low temperature vacuum deposition micromoulding methodology. These had absolute morphological fidelity to silicon master structures and demonstrated sufficient structural rigidity to efficiently penetrate excised human breast skin. Sugar glass MNs incorporating a marker compound dissolved rapidly and completely in situ releasing dye into deeper skin layers. The biological activity of a model macromolecule was partially retained over extended storage following incorporation into sugar glass. This is the first demonstration that MNs created from amorphous sugar glasses can be used for incorporating and delivering molecules, and potentially biologically active macromolecules, via the transdermal route.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)93-101
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Controlled Release
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 28 Feb 2012

Bibliographical note

Copyright © 2011 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.


  • Administration, Cutaneous
  • Carbohydrates
  • Dimethylpolysiloxanes
  • Drug Delivery Systems
  • Glass
  • Humans
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Microinjections
  • Skin
  • Temperature
  • beta-Galactosidase


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