Microneedles for enhanced transdermal and intraocular drug delivery
Microneedle mediated delivery based research has garnered great interest in recent years. In the past, the initial focus was delivery of macromolecules of biological origin, however the field has now broadened its scope to include transdermal delivery of conventional low molecular weight drug molecules. Great success has been demonstrated utilising this approach, particularly in the field of vaccine delivery. Current technological advances have permitted an enhancement in design formulation, allowing delivery of therapeutic doses of small molecule drugs and biomolecules, aided by larger patch sizes and scalable manufacture. In addition, it has been recently shown that microneedles are beneficial in localisation of drug delivery systems within targeted ocular tissues. Microneedles have the capacity to modify the means in which therapeutics and formulations are delivered to the eye. However, further research is still required due to potential drawbacks and challenges. Indeed, no true microneedle-based transdermal or ocular drug delivery system has yet been marketed. Some concerns have been raised regarding regulatory issues and manufacturing processes of such systems, and those in the field are now actively working to address them. Microneedle-based transdermal and ocular drug delivery systems have the potential to greatly impact not only patient benefits, but also industry, and through diligence, innovation and collaboration, their true potential will begin to be realised within the next 3–5 years.