BME researchers Dr. Chao Wang, Dr. Zhen Gu, Yanqi Ye, and Gabrielle Hochu have developed a microneedle patch that, when applied to the site of a melanoma, results in a more effective treatment with less chances of immuno-related side effects. The microneedles contain anti-PD-1 antibodies (responsible for seeking out and annhiliating cancerous cells) and a glucose reactant within a nanoparticle shell. When the patch is applied to the skin, glucose in the blood slowly breaks down the nanoparticle shell– allowing for the steady and sustained release of the antibodies.
The application of immunotherapy via skin patch eliminates the problems of the traditional injection method, which has been critisized for its lack of targeted site application and for its increased chance of an overdose causing an auto-immune disorder. In its animal studies, the team saw a 40% survival rate with no detectable melanoma for subjects treated with the patch, as opposed to a 0% survival rate for those that were not. When the researchers added an “attack” antibody to the anti-PD-1 in the patch, the survival rate shot up to a fantastic 70%. According to Dr. Gu, “Because of the sustained and localized release manner, mediated by microneedles, we are able to achieve desirable therapeutic effects with a relatively low dosage, which reduces the risk of auto-immune disorders.”