Microneedle patches designed to deliver long-acting contraceptive hormone
Sustained hormonal release of a contraceptive hormone may be possible via the use of biodegradable levonorgestrel-releasing microneedle patches, according to a recent paper published in the journal Nature Biomedical Engineering. This research was performed at Georgia Institute of Technology in collaboration with scientists at FHI 360, with funding from the U.S. Agency for International Development through the Envision FP project. The patches, which would offer long-acting contraception via biodegradable microneedles, could be self-administered, an attribute particularly beneficial for women in developing countries where access to family planning services is limited.
The small patches contain 100 microneedles containing levonorgestrel, each thinner than a hair. Microscopic bubbles at the base of the needles create a point of weakness between the patch and the microneedles which, upon the application of shear force, facilitates detachment of the microneedles from the patch and into the skin. The patch backing can be discarded without the requirement of sharps containers. Sustained release of levonorgestrel was demonstrated in rats, suggesting the potential of a 1-month contraceptive product. Efforts to extend the duration of release are ongoing.
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Written by Jill Sergison, Associate Scientist, FHI 360
The work described in this post was made possible by the generous support of the American people through the US Agency for International Development. The contents are the responsibility of FHI 360 and do not necessarily reflect the views of USAID or the United States Government.
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