This scanning electron micrograph (SEM) shows an array of ‘microneedles’ made from a biodegradable polymer. Researchers have shown these materials can be used to deliver vaccines and therapeutics to the outer layers of the skin in a safe and painless way. Because the microneedles avoid contact with blood vessels and nerve endings in the deeper skin layers, microneedle application prevents pain and the transmission of blood-borne pathogens. In addition, because the skin is so accessible, microneedle application can be performed quickly, requires minimal training for healthcare providers and makes self-application by patients possible. Each microneedle is approximately 700 microns high and 250 microns wide at the base.
Credit: Peter DeMuth / Wellcome Images