New Pain-free Skin Patch Treatment Fights Cancer

As per the American Academy of Dermatology, about 100,000 new cases of melanoma are diagnosed every year, and 20 Americans die each day from it.

Now, a new fast-acting skin patch, tested in mice and human patients, has been designed by a team of MIT researchers so as to efficiently deliver medication that attacks melanoma cells.

Topical ointments are a soothing form of treatment, yet they can barely enter the skin. Be that as it may, the solution for this – vaccines – is a painful one. Syringes are likewise inconvenient meaning patients sometimes fail to self-administer treatments.

A team of MIT researchers believes they have a solution – they created a skin patch that is fitted with microneedles and can administer medication in a very short time.

According to CNBC, the researchers, who made the patch through a process they call layer-by-layer coating, state it allows into painless treatment that is easy to administer. In addition, it reduces the risk of diseases.

“Our patch has a unique chemical coating and mode of action that enables it to be applied and removed from the skin in just a minute while still delivering a therapeutic dose of drugs,” Yanpu He, a graduate student who helped build the gadget, said in a press release. “Our patches elicit a robust antibody response in living mice and show promise in eliciting a strong immune response in human skin.”

The researchers presented their findings at the American Chemical Society (ACS) Fall 2019 National Meeting and Exposition.

Quick Injection

Paula T. Hammond, Ph.D., along with her graduate students He, Celestine Hong and other colleagues at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), devised an approach to rapidly infuse drugs using the fix. To do so, they designed a new pH-responsive polymer with two parts.

“The initial part contains amine groups that are positively charged at the pH at which we make the microneedles, but that becomes neutral at the pH of the skin,” he said.

“The subsequent part contains carboxylic acid groups with no charge when the microneedles are made, however, which become contrarily charged when the patch is applied to the skin, so there is an overall change in charge from positive to negative.”

Finally, the team believes their patch can be used as an effective treatment for cancers.

“Our patch technology could be used to deliver vaccines to combat different infectious diseases,” Hammond said.

“In any case, we are excited by the likelihood that the patch is another tool in the oncologists’ arsenal against cancer, explicitly melanoma.”

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