Scientists from Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (NTU Singapore) and the Agency for Science, Technology and Research have showed that applying "temporal pressure" to the skin can create a new way to deliver drugs.
In a paper published in the Science Advances journal, the researchers showed that bringing together two magnets so that they pinch and apply pressure to a fold of skin, led to short term changes in the skin barrier and specifically the formation of "micro pores" underneath its surface.
In a report published Tuesday on the website of Nanyang Technological University, Lead author Daniel Lio said while needles and micro needle injections damage the skin, micro pores could pave the way towards painless transdermal delivery of drugs such as insulin.
"Our research project was first inspired by the traditional Chinese medicine 'tuina' therapy where physicians rub and apply pressure on skin and muscle tissue for treatment," explained Lio.
In tests, they showed that these micro pores, of about 3 micrometers in area, allowed drugs applied on the surface of the skin to diffuse through it more easily. Six times greater quantity of drug diffused through the skin of mice with the micro pores compared to the skin of mice which did not receive the temporal pressure treatment.
Compared to conventional injection where the skin has to be penetrated and there is a risk of a hypoglycaemia effect - when the injected insulin acts too fast and the patient gets dizzy - the new method is able to slowly deliver drugs over time without breaking the skin, thus causing less pain.
In the same report, co-author David Becker said their paper highlighted the potential to use this method which could alleviate the need for diabetes patients to inject insulin multiple times daily using conventional needles and syringes.
"Patients who have to inject drugs daily, such as insulin, are constantly asking whether there is another way to deliver their medicines that doesn't involve hurting or penetrating the skin. Our new findings hold promise for them and we hope that we can refine this method so that one day it may be possible to deliver enough drugs through the skin without pain," Becker added.