A new type of microneedle patch may offer new hope to those struggling to manage acne. Instead of using antibiotics, the device releases nanoparticles that, when exposed to ultrasound, kill acne-causing bacteria.
Acne usually occurs when excess oil production in the skin clogs the hair follicles, creating a low-oxygen microenvironment. Propionibacterium acnes Bacteria proliferate. The hair follicles thus become infected and inflamed, producing raised red pimples.
While oral or topical antibiotics can help in some cases, they are not suitable for everyone. They also cause unwanted side effects and, over time, bacteria can develop resistance to them, making them less effective.
In search of an alternative with better performance, a team at the University of Hong Kong led by Prof. Kelvin Yeung developed this special patch.
Microneedle patches typically take the form of small polymer sheets with a series of tiny, sharp, drug-laden studs on the underside. When the patch is pressed against the body, the needles painlessly penetrate the surface layer of the skin. They then harmlessly dissolve and release their drug payload into the body.
In this particular patch, the studs contain nanoparticles of a material called a zinc-based metal-organic framework.Once these particles are released into the Propionibacterium acnes– Infected skin, the area is subjected to ultrasound pulses.This causes the particles to produce chemicals called active oxygen (ROS), which can kill bacteria.
In tests on mice, 15 minutes of ultrasonic stimulation was sufficient to eliminate 99.73% of Propionibacterium acnes In pimples treated with patches. As an added benefit, it was found that the zinc ions released by the nanoparticles help trigger existing fibroblasts (connective tissue cells) to start repairing the skin.
“The new microneedle patch is able to generate ROS under ultrasonic stimulation, as a non-antibiotic and transdermal method, it can not only effectively resolve the infection caused by ultrasonic stimulation Propionibacterium acnes “Since ROS have specific killing mechanisms, we believe this design could also address other skin infections caused by fungi, parasites or viruses,” Yeung said.
A paper recently published in the journal describes the research scientific progress.