Science

Cardiff Medicentre pioneer microneedle technology

by Tomos Evans

Cardiff Medicentre pioneers have trialled microneedle technology which could reduce the need for certain injections. Cardiff Medicentre supports the development of medtech and biotech companies trying to make their mark on the sector. It is conducted by Cardiff University and Cardiff and Vale University Health Board.

Picofluidics Ltd is the company behind the pioneering microneedle technology initiative. Based at Cardiff Medicentre, the company was established in 2009. They have conducted rigorous tests in order to achieve complete efficiency of the microneedle technology. It has been confirmed through the conduct of trials that Picofluidics’ plasma treatment technology is viable. This will allow many hundreds of microneedles to be made.

The project has been conducted in conjunction with scientists from Coventry University and has been financially supported by Innovate UK. The aim is that Picofluidics will take their product to market in the near future.

Microneedles often come in the form of patches applied to a patient’s skin, delivering medicines in a more effective manner than traditional needles.

Founder of Picofluidics, Dr John MacNeil said: “This milestone has been reached after many years of laboratory work developing a specific type of microneedle that can be produced for approximately one-tenth of the cost of those currently on the market. We are now looking to collaborate with partners to commercialise our technology and roll out the benefits to patients”.

He continued: “While many standard injections could potentially be replaced by a microneedle patch, we believe adoption will commence with ‘niche’ applications, such as pain relief where patients can self-administer a patch instead of applying a cream or gel”.

Dr MacNeil believes that the pioneering microneedle technology will one day replace traditional methods of delivering medicine. He concluded: “We then expect our microneedles to start replacing standard syringes in the delivery of some medicines. Aside from being a more comfortable option for patients, our microneedles produce less waste and potentially offer more control over the dose being delivered. It all makes for better treatment and better outcomes for patients”.

Cardiff Medicentre’s Business Incubation Officer, Dr Justin John, said: “John and his team have been Medicentre tenants since 2010 and it has been a pleasure to support the company in its growth. It is always great to see ideas being brought to life, and I have every confidence that in a few years’ time the technology that Picofluidics has harnessed will be in common use throughout the healthcare community”.

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