Image of the Day: Artificial Snake Bite

A microneedle delivers liquid medicines through tiny, fang-like points.

Aug 6, 2019
Nicoletta Lanese
The microneedle patch, shown on a human thumb, delivers liquid drugs when gentle pressure is applied to its surface. Top left scale bar is 100 μm and bottom right scale bar is 5 mm.  
W.-G. BAE ET AL., SCIENCE TRANSLATIONAL MEDICINE (2019)

Inspired by snake fangs, scientists have designed flexible patches coated in microneedles to deliver liquid medicines through the skin. Rear-fanged venomous snakes, such as vipers and cobras, grow a grooved tooth that injects prey with venom as the predator bites down. Microneedles of a similar shape quickly delivered lidocaine and an inactivated influenza virus into mice and guinea pigs, the researchers reported July 31 in Science Translational Medicine

The vaccine bolstered the rodents’ immune systems against a lethal dose of the influenza virus, and the authors hope to next test their invention in large animal models.  

W.-G. Bae et al., “Snake fang–inspired stamping patch for transdermal delivery of liquid formulations,” doi:10.1126/scitranslmed.aaw3329, Science Translational Medicine, 2019.  

Nicoletta Lanese is an intern at The Scientist. Email her at nlanese@the-scientist.com.