Frequently Asked Questions
Microneedle technology is new. It's different.
Here are answers to a few questions we get pretty often.
What is a microneedle?
Our microneedles are small, hollow, metallic structures less than 1 mm long that allow liquid to pass either to or from a tissue, such as human skin.
How are these different from regular needles?
Aside from the obvious (size!), our microneedles have several key differences. Since our microneedles are so small they deliver drugs to the upper dermis, avoid painful nerve endings, and do not cause bleeding.
For comparison, hypodermic needles are primarily used to deliver drugs or vaccines to either the muscle (intramuscular injections) or directly in the fatty tissue (subcutaneous injections), each causing pain, bleeding, and discomfort.
Size matters! There are several unmet medical needs addressed by our microneedles: needle phobia, patient discomfort, and needlestick injuries. Our microneedles are safer, provide opportunities for self-administration, more precise injections, and better efficiency of medication.
Until now, widespread adoption of microneedles has been restricted by complex fabrication processes--our competitors use of silicon limits their ability to manufacture large quantities at commercial scale. Microdermics’ proprietary hollow, metallic microneedle fabrication process is the only process allowing batch production at large commercial scale.
Can I see the needles with the naked eye?
Microneedles are pretty tiny, but most people can see them if you hold one really close under a light.
How does it feel to get an injection?
Unlike regular needles, microneedles do not cause much (if any) pain upon insertion as their size is so small that they will not touch many nerves. During injection, some people may feel a faint pinching sensation depending on the location and volume of injection, but nothing comparable to injection with regular needles.
Who will use these?
Due to improved safety profile, the use of microneedles is not limited to experienced medical practitioners. With minimal instruction, anyone could perform a self-injection. Imagine receiving your annual flu vaccine or routine treatment in the mail and making the injection without scheduling an appointment with your healthcare provider.
Are there different types of microneedles?
Yes, we are working on hollow, metal microneedles--something that no other company has been able to deliver.
Other companies and researchers have developed a variety of other “microneedles,” though each has had limitations.
- Solid microneedles poke holes in the skin, then allow drugs to soak through the tiny openings.
- Dissolvable microneedles require costly and expensive drug reformulations, making the costs of product development exceed the benefits.
- Hollow microneedles made from other materials such as silicon have been brittle, difficult to produce at scale, and require skilled technicians to use due to safety concerns.
- Some, at more than 1 mm long, really aren’t all that “micro”. So, what’s the point if it just puts the drugs where a hypodermic needle would anyway?
IS YOUR MANUFACTURING PROCESS SCALABLE?
The fabrication process is highly scalable, which is one of the factors that distinguishes us from the competition. The overall process of making the microneedle arrays is based on electroplating on a re-usable micro-structured mold. There are large-scale electroplating facilities that can handle > 100,000 units/day. The potential capacity in a mass production setting is comparable to existing hypodermic needles (thousands per hour).
HOW QUICKLY CAN YOU SCALE UP PRODUCTION?
We have transferred our manufacturing process to a large MEMS foundry, and completed scale-up feasibility runs. We have also partnered with key medical device manufacturers to develop commercially viable processes to scale-up fabrication and packaging activities.