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  • Writer's pictureTim Morch

Dissolving Microneedles For Better Pediatric and Geriatric Treatment

It's not uncommon for people to experience trypanophobia (fear of needles) and dysphagia (difficulty in swallowing). These issues affect a large percentage of the population. Fear of needles is a common reason why people refuse to get vaccines or other treatments. Kids and seniors are more likely to fear needles than other age groups. Dysphagia is also common among kids and seniors, who often have trouble swallowing tablets. A leading solution to this problem is dissolving microneedles for better pediatric and geriatric treatment.


This article examines how dissolving microneedles can eliminate hypodermic needles, solve challenges related to oral delivery, and deliver improved treatment for pediatric and geriatric patients.

 

Trypanophobia: An Overlooked Condition

Fear of needles is an often overlooked condition that can have lifelong implications. Parents know the anguish of their child’s first vaccine. Even adults avoid treatment due to needle phobia. Fear of injections and needlestick pain are often cited as reasons why children and adults refuse vaccines.”


A Canadian study of over 1000 kids found that “63% of children reported a fear of needles.” Even worse, “both parents and vaccinators admit they are non-compliant with childhood immunization schedules in an effort to reduce pain and distress.”


Although percentages decrease with age, the US Center for Disease Control (CDC) says, “It has been estimated that up to 25% of adults have a fear of needles, with most needle fears developing during childhood.” It adds that “If not addressed, these fears can have long-term effects such as preprocedural anxiety and avoidance of needed health care throughout a person’s lifetime.”


  • “63.2% reported experiencing needle phobia, and rated the intensity of their fear as 5.7 [out of 10].”

  • “Needle fear is a common barrier to initiating or adhering to medical treatments and vaccine hesitancy.”

  • 94% of participants said non-invasive alternatives are the top solution to reducing needle fear among participants.


The study noted that “patients with chronic or severe conditions may be more likely to develop needle phobia due to frequent and long-term exposure to needles as part of essential disease treatment. It was shown that the patients with frequent exposure to the medical system are more likely to have painful experiences and develop needle phobia.”


Dissolving microneedles to treat chronic diseases and deliver essential vaccines is the solution.

 

Dysphagia: Overcoming Treatment Challenges for Pediatric and Geriatric Populations

Dysphagia, or difficulty swallowing, impacts many kids and seniors. The condition means that oral treatments for these populations are challenging. A National Institute of Health report notes: "Awareness of swallowing dysfunction in the pediatric population is growing. As many as 50% of parents report that their otherwise healthy children have a feeding problem. Dysphagia is increasingly common in the pediatric population, especially as advances in health care improve the survival of extremely premature infants and children with complex congenital anomalies. Symptoms of dysphagia and aspiration prompt referral to otolaryngologists."


Another report estimates that “20% of individuals over the age of 50, and most individuals by the age of 80, experience some degree of swallowing difficulty.“


Advancements in transdermal drug delivery using painless dissolving microneedles mean the future is bright for kids and seniors who have difficulty swallowing.


What are Dissolving Microneedles?

Dissolving microneedles are small patches with tiny clusters of hair-sized needles applied to the skin like a bandage. The tips painlessly pierce the outer layer of the skin, delivering targeted treatment formulations into the body.


Kids, adolescents, and adults who fear needles and have difficulty swallowing will applaud the introduction of painless microneedles. Doctor’s appointments will

become a positive experience, eliminating the fear and stress needles create.


Dissolving Microneedles for Pediatric and Geriatric Populations

Young children and seniors have something in common: thinner skin. Both populations may need administration at home by the family without professional assistance. They may have swallowing difficulties preventing oral medication use.


Infant and geriatric skin differs from mature skin. Both age brackets have a thinner stratum corneum (outer layer) and epidermis (inner layer). This results in a faster rate of water loss, a lower level of natural moisturizing, fewer melanin pigments, and smaller corneocytes—dead or dying skin cells.


Dissolving microneedle patches for children requires special formulations and compositions.


painless dissolving microneedles for improved treatment

Source: Eltean

 

 

Pediatricians Support Dissolving Microneedle Applications

Pediatricians agree that using microneedles is “expected to cause considerably reduced anxiety and distress for the children themselves (87.5%), the parents (88.5%) and even to the healthcare providers who are required for handling and administration (71.7%).”


Pediatricians highlight the benefits of painless drug delivery compared to conventional drug delivery systems, pointing to the many advantages of dissolving microneedle patches noted above.


The survey results of pediatricians highlight the leading potential applications for microneedles in pediatric populations.


Clinical Trials and Evaluations in Pediatric Populations

Clinical trials in pediatric populations are limited. An Emory University trial clinical trial among pediatric populations “evaluated the safety, reactogenicity, and acceptability of placement of a placebo microneedle patch to the skin of children.” Thirty-three children aged six weeks to 24 months were evaluated with positive results.


Another trial conducted by University Kebangsaan Malaysia Medical Centre on a “Microneedle Patch for Topical Anesthesia Enhancement in Paediatric Thalassemia Patients” found that microneedles effectively reduced pain for children needing blood transfusions.


(Thalassemia is a blood disease where the body doesn’t make enough hemoglobin, a protein that helps carry oxygen through the body.)


Even more promising, in March 2023, Micron Biomedical completed Mumps/Rubella vaccine trials delivered via microneedle patch to infants (9 to 10 months), toddlers (15 to 18 months) and adults (18 to 40 years) in The Gambia. Reuters recently reported that the trial “showed that Micron’s device delivered the measles-rubella vaccine, produced by the Serum Institute of India, to adults, babies and toddlers as safely and effectively as syringes, and produced a similar immune response.”


These results demonstrate that painless microneedles are the solution for delivering vaccines and other treatments.

 

The Future of Microneedles: Painless Progress in Health Care

Looking at the future of health care, microneedles will redefine how we approach treatment delivery. In a world where fear of needles spans across age groups, microneedles hold the promise of converting a once-dreaded medical experience into a painless and anxiety-free process. Dissolving microneedles can overcome trypanophobia and dysphagia and improve health care for the most vulnerable populations.


Size matters. As the name implies, microneedles are small and easy to ship without expensive temperature limitations, improving global access to critical medications.


Vitropep is developing commercial therapeutic peptide-based treatments using dissolving microneedles. Founder Christophe Tarabout discovered that some peptides can solidify, making them ideal candidates for microneedle applications. Vitropep is focused on helping people who suffer from chronic diseases like diabetes and obesity using its patent-pending concentrated, stabilized microneedles.


There is an increased urgency to achieve regulatory approval of microneedles for a range of treatments. Until this becomes a reality, we are stuck with hypodermic needles.


Vitropep is creating a future where doctor's appointments are positive experiences devoid of the stress and fear traditionally linked to needles. Dissolving microneedles pave the way for a more patient-centric approach to health care, ensuring better compliance and improved outcomes. The transition from hypodermic needles to dissolving microneedles is not just a technological shift; it's a paradigm shift in how we perceive and receive medical care.

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