Engineers from Indiana’s Purdue University have created a microneedle array that successfully penetrates the biofilms that commonly form over the ulcerated tissues and cells associated with diabetic foot ulcers to deliver antibiotics to the wounds.

According to the engineers, the microneedle array punctures the seemingly impenetrable shield of biofilm that forms on non-healing, chronic wounds to absorb the liquid beneath the biofilm and then it dissolves. This enables both oxygen and bactericidal agents to reach and treat the wounds.

Source: Purdue UniversitySource: Purdue University

Likewise, the patent-pending microneedle array is reportedly painless to remove unlike previous methods for bypassing biofilm, which included peeling it off — an approach that is both painful and that does not distinguish between unhealthy and healthy tissue.

"The microneedles don't cause pain because they are not long enough to touch nerve endings in the foot," the Purdue engineers explained. "In this published study, the team assessed the microneedles on ex vivo porcine wound models. In fewer than five minutes, the microneedles dissolved, the antibiotic was delivered and the patch was removed."

Such wounds, left untreated, could potentially lead to sepsis and bacteremia, and thus limb amputation. As such, the team hopes to take the microneedle array beyond its current proof-of-concept stage to human testing.

The study, Flexible Microneedle Array Patch for Chronic Wound Oxygenation and Biofilm Eradication, appears in the journal ACS Applied Bio Materials.

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