Hanyang University in South Korea relies on Microneedle Manufacturing and Testing with ZwickRoell
Hanyang University is a private research university in South Korea, currently viewed as one of the leading universities in STEM (Science, Technology Engineering and Mathematics) fields nationally. It was the first college to offer engineering and architecture programs back in 1939.
Biopharmaceutical Research Laboratory
Biopharmaceutical Research Laboratory led & established by Professor Yong-Hee Kim, Ph.D., FBSE, focuses on the study and development of novel Drug Delivery Systems to improve the effectiveness of drug delivery and the quality of life. One of the ongoing research topics is dedicated to “Dissolving Microneedle Patches”. Professor Yong-Hee Kim and Dr. Shayan Fakhraei Lahiji have developed various platforms to encapsulate and improve the delivery efficiency of dissolving microneedles into the skin.
Development of Drug Encapsulated Dissolving Microneedles
Dissolving microneedles are a patient-friendly transdermal drug delivery platform capable of delivering a wide range of pharmaceutics and cosmetics in a minimally invasive manner. Professor Kim’s team is focused on dissolving microneedles made of polymeric backbone matrix mixed with biopharmaceuticals that are released into the skin upon application for local or systemic delivery.
Advantages of Dissolving Microneedle Patches
The dissolving microneedle patches eliminate pain, trauma, infection, fear, and repulsion, which are among the limitations of conventional syringes. Since this delivery system avoids first-pass metabolism, the activity loss of drugs caused within the gastrointestinal tract can be eliminated as well.
During the past decades, the public interest in dissolving microneedles has been significantly increased due to various articles reporting the improved immunization effectiveness of microneedles compared with injection. Particularly, since the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of research teams working on developing vaccine encapsulated microneedles has dramatically increased. On the other hand, the thermostability of microneedle patches can facilitate the storage and distribution condition of vaccines without the requirement of a cold chain system. This stability advantage of microneedles can boost the vaccination rate in low-income countries as well.
Fracture Force Analysis of a Dissolving Microneedle
The mechanical characteristics of microneedle patches are influenced by their backbone matrix and the encapsulated materials. For example a low mechanical strength can cause breakage while penetrating the skin and lead to drug wastage. Therefore, detailed investigation of the required mechanical strength of each microneedle in a patch during their development is essential to ensure a consistent and reliable penetration into the skin.
“The universal materials testing machine zwickiLine combined with the highly sensitive loadcell measures the mechanical properties of microneedles with a remarkably high precision, which gives us the confidence having a reliable data needed for a further evaluation.”
Professor Yong-Hee Kim
Founder and Head of Biopharmaceutical Research Laboratory
Testing Solutions for the Past & the Future
“We have been using ZwickRoell testing solutions for the past 10 years and are very satisfied with the high accuracy of the test results. On the top of that we value the wide range of accessories options and software configurations that allows us to select the suitable measurement method for each experiment.“
Dr. Shayan Fakhraei Lahiji
The dissolving microneedles developed at Hanyang University intended for commercial mass production have shown promising results in enhancing pharmaceuticals’ delivery efficiency and application convenience. In light of this, iCure Pharmaceuticals, a well-known patch manufacturing enterprise, has invested in a subsidiary called "Cursus Bio” to commercialize microneedle technologies developed by Professor Kim and Dr. Lahiji.
In addition to Hanyang University and Cursus Bio, the ZwickRoell testing solution for evaluation of the mechanical properties of microneedles is being widely used at various research institutes and companies, including Yonsei University, Raphas, Philosys, and YUHAN.