Transdermal delivery of gentamicin using dissolving microneedle arrays for potential treatment of neonatal sepsis
Neonatal infections are a leading cause of childhood mortality in low-resource settings. World Health Organization guidelines for outpatient treatment of possible serious bacterial infection (PSBI) in neonates and young infants when referral for hospital treatment is not feasible include intramuscular gentamicin (GEN) and oral amoxicillin. GEN is supplied as an aqueous solution of gentamicin sulphate in vials or ampoules and requires health care workers to be trained in dose calculation or selection of an appropriate dose based on the patient's weight band and to have access to safe injection supplies and appropriate sharps disposal. A simplified formulation, packaging, and delivery method to treat PSBI in low-resource settings could decrease user error and expand access to lifesaving outpatient antibiotic treatment for infants with severe infection during the neonatal period. We developed dissolving polymeric microneedles (MN) arrays to deliver GEN transdermally. MN arrays were produced from aqueous blends containing 30% (w/w) of GEN and two polymers approved by the US Food and Drug Administration: sodium hyaluronate and poly(vinylpyrrolidone). The arrays (19 × 19 needles and 500 μm height) were mechanically strong and were able to penetrate a skin simulant to a depth of 378 μm. The MN arrays were tested in vitro using a Franz Cell setup delivering approximately 4.45 mg of GEN over 6 h. Finally, three different doses (low, medium, and high) of GEN delivered by MN arrays were tested in an animal model. Maximum plasma levels of GEN were dose-dependent and ranged between 2 and 5 μg/mL. The time required to reach these levels post-MN array application ranged between 1 and 6 h. This work demonstrated the potential of dissolving MN arrays to deliver GEN transdermally at therapeutic levels in vivo.