By: Lawrence Jones, Ph.D.
A newly published article February 4, 2020 in Advanced Functional Materials by brilliant engineers at Rutgers that used 4D printing to create tiny needles that mimic parasites. Their unique approach to a miniaturized needle maybe the latest innovation to replace hypodermic needles in the health lives of many soon. The New Jersey team published its study (“4D Printing of a Bioinspired Microneedle Array with Backward‐Facing Barbs for Enhanced Tissue Adhesion”) that 4D printing goes further than 3D with smart materials that are programmed to change shape after printing. “Time is the fourth dimension that allows materials to morph into new shapes” (Genengnews.com 2020).
This novel approach microneedle (MN), a miniaturized needle, has received global attention because of its minimally invasive, pain‐free, and easy‐to‐use proposition. The Rutgers researchers explain that “a major challenge for controlled long‐term drug delivery or biosensing using MN is its low tissue adhesion”. Their scientific approach stems from understanding high tissue adhesion by living creatures in nature such as microhooks of parasites and barbed stingers of honeybees. The Rutgers team explains that the complex microscopic features are challenging with traditional fabrication methods.
Their article goes into detail of bioinspired backward‐facing curved barbs for enhanced tissue adhesion, manufactured by a digital light processing 3D printing technique. They explain that “backward‐facing barbs on a MN are created by desolvation‐induced deformation utilizing cross‐linking density gradient in a photocurable polymer.” The barb thickness and bending curvature are controlled by printing parameters and material composition. However, a major challenge for controlled long‐term drug delivery or biosensing using MN is its low tissue adhesion.
Genengnews.com (2020) “We think our 4D-printed microneedle array will allow for more robust and sustained use of minimally invasive, pain-free and easy-to-use microneedles for delivering drugs, healing wounds, biosensing and other soft tissue applications,” said senior author Howon Lee, PhD, an assistant professor in the department in the School of Engineering at Rutgers University-New Brunswick.”
Genengnews.com (February 5, 2020). https://www.genengnews.com/news/tissue-attaching-parasite-mimicking-microneedles-may-replace-hypodermic-needles/
Photo courtesy: Genengnews.com (February 5, 2020)