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Active micro-needles

Published on 17 June 2022

Measure biological parameters and cure

  What are active micro-needles?

Less invasive than traditional needles, micro-needles reach the deep layers of the epidermis to deliver drugs, measure physiological characteristics, or send light to specific wavelengths. CEA-Leti has developed and qualified a new technology of biocompatible polymer micro-needles, ranging in length from 250 μm to 3 mm. Directly applicable to the skin, multiple assembly can cover several square centimeters.


  • Transdermal delivery of active ingredients: chemical drugs, proteins, nucleic acid, and vaccine formulations over short, medium, or long periods (3 min to several days)
  • In-situ measurement of dermal parameters (pH, impedance)
  • Interstitial fluid collection and electrochemical measurement (pH, glucose, lactate, etc.)
  • Optical waveguide for measuring and curing

  What's new?

Specializing in biomaterials, CEA-Leti uses a broad range of biocompatible polymer or silicon materials to create active micro-needles that can deploy electrochemical, electrical, or optical functions. CEA-Leti experts are working on several projects, from feasibility studies to small-scale qualification, such as:

  • Photosensitizer delivery (5-ALA) to treat melanomas, both easier
    and quicker to use for practitioners and less painful for patients;
  • On-demand insulin delivery using micro-needles coupled
    with a luminous actuator;
  • A preclinical study to check the performance of active micro-needles
    for local and deep anesthesia.

​Molded cellulose-derivative based micro-needles
Silicon micro-needle on a wafer
3D printed micro-needles

   What's next?

Several preclinical projects are underway to develop micro-needles devoted to worn measurement, combining interstitial liquid collection with electrical, electrochemical, or optical measurements. These systems will pave the way to continuous monitoring of several metabolites involved in various pathologies. Large-scale manufacturing processes are also being developed.

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