Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Microneedle patch could replace standard tuberculosis skin test

Each year, millions of people in the United States get a tuberculosis skin test to see if they have the infection that still affects one-third of the world’s population.

But the standard diagnostic test is difficult to give, because a hypodermic needle must be inserted at a precise angle and depth in the arm to successfully check for tuberculosis.

Marco Rolandi, UW

A chitin microneedle patch tested on human skin.

Marco Rolandi, UW

Comparison of a microneedle tuberculosis test with a traditional test administered with a hypodermic needle. The lower images show needle-depth problems that can occur with the conventional test.

Now, a team led by University of Washington engineers has created a patch with tiny, biodegradable needles that can penetrate the skin and precisely deliver a tuberculosis test. The researchers published their results online Aug. 26 in the journal Advanced Healthcare Materials.

“With a microneedle test there’s little room for user error, because the depth of delivery is determined by the microneedle length rather than the needle-insertion angle,” said senior author Marco Rolandi, a UW assistant professor of materials science and engineering. “This test is painless and easier to administer than the traditional skin test with a hypodermic needle.”

A tuberculosis test is a common precautionary measure for teachers, health care professionals and international travelers. The bacterial infection usually attacks the lungs and can live in an inactive state for years in the body. A diagnostic test involves an injection in a person’s arm. Within two or three days, a swollen, firm bump will appear if an infection is present.

Rolandi’s lab and collaborators at the Infectious Disease Research Institute in Seattle believe this is the first time microneedles made from biomaterials have been used as a diagnostic tool for tuberculosis. They say their test will be easier to use, less painful and has the potential to be more successful than the standard tuberculosis skin test.

The researchers tested the patch on guinea pigs and found that after the microneedles were inserted using the patch, the skin reaction associated with having a tuberculosis infection was the same as when using the standard hypodermic needle test. A microneedle patch test has potential as a simpler, more reliable option than the traditional tuberculosis test for children who are needle-shy, or in developing countries where medical care is limited, Rolandi said.

“It’s like putting on a bandage,” Rolandi said. “As long as the patch is applied on the skin, the test is always delivered to the same depth underneath the skin.”

Comparison of a microneedle tuberculosis test with a traditional test administered with a hypodermic needle. The lower images show needle-depth problems that can occur with the conventional test.

With the standard test, if a hypodermic needle is inserted at the wrong angle, the solution to check for tuberculosis is injected too deep or too shallow into the skin, and the test fails.

Microneedles have been used in recent years as a painless alternative to hypodermic needles to deliver drugs to the body. Microneedles on a patch can be placed on an arm or leg, which then create small holes in the skin’s outermost layer, allowing the drugs coated on each needle to diffuse into the body.

Microneedles are made from silicon, metals and synthetic polymers, and most recently of natural, biodegradable materials such as silk and chitin, a material found in hard outer shells of some insects and crustaceans.

The UW team developed microneedles made from chitin that are each 750 micrometers long, or about one-fortieth of an inch. Each needle tip is coated with purified protein derivative, the material used for testing for tuberculosis. The researchers found that these microneedles were strong enough to penetrate the skin and deliver the tuberculosis test.

“It’s a great application of this technology and I hope it will become a commercial product,” said paper co-author Darrick Carter, a biochemist and a vice president at the Infectious Disease Research Institute.

The researchers will continue developing the microneedle tuberculosis test and plan to test it next on humans. They also hope to develop different diagnostic tests using microneedles, including allergy tests.

Other co-authors are Jungho Jin, a UW postdoctoral researcher in materials science and engineering, and Valerie Reese and Rhea Coler, both at the Infectious Disease Research Institute.

The research was funded by the Coulter Foundation, the UW Center for Commercialization, the Washington Research Foundation, a 3M untenured faculty award and the Infectious Disease Research Institute.

For more information, contact Rolandi at or 206-221-0309.

Michelle Ma | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Resolving the mystery of preeclampsia
21.10.2016 | Universitätsklinikum Magdeburg

nachricht New potential cancer treatment using microwaves to target deep tumors
12.10.2016 | University of Texas at Arlington

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

Im Focus: New Products - Highlights of COMPAMED 2016

COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.

In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...

Im Focus: Ultra-thin ferroelectric material for next-generation electronics

'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.

Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Resolving the mystery of preeclampsia

21.10.2016 | Health and Medicine

Stanford researchers create new special-purpose computer that may someday save us billions

21.10.2016 | Information Technology

From ancient fossils to future cars

21.10.2016 | Materials Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>