A collaboration between researchers at the University of British Columbia and Paul Scherrer Institut in Switzerland has developed a microneedle device for drug monitoring. The device is in a form of a patch that’s stuck onto the skin, painlessly pushing microneedles through to sample the interstitial fluid.
A number of microneedle patches already exist, but those have been developed for delivering drugs and vaccines, not sampling the body for their presence. The proof-of-concept device reported by the team was used to measure the concentration of vancomycin, an antibiotic that usually requires multiple blood draws to confirm clinical efficacy and to prevent dangerous side effects.
The microneedles are actually tiny micro-reactors within which the target drug within the sample undergoes a reaction. An opto-fluidic device is then used to detect and measure the reaction.
The researchers showed that they were able to accurately monitor vancomycin within the interstitial fluid, taking samples only a millionth of a milliliter in volume, which showed to be a pretty good indicator of the drug within blood.