A patch with tiny, biodegradable needles that are able to penetrate the skin and precisely deliver a TB test was developed by researchers.
Senior author Marco Rolandi, a University of Washington assistant professor of materials science and engineering, said that with a microneedle test there's little room for user error, because the depth of delivery is determined by the microneedle length rather than the needle-insertion angle.
He said that this test is painless and easier to administer than the traditional skin test with a hypodermic needle.
Rolandi's lab and collaborators at the Infectious Disease Research Institute in Seattle say that their test is going to be easier to use, less painful and has the potential to be more successful than the standard TB skin test.
The researchers tested the patch on guinea pigs and found that after the microneedles were inserted using the patch, the skin reaction associated with having a tuberculosis infection was the same as when using the standard hypodermic needle test.
Rolandi said that a microneedle patch test has potential as a simpler, more reliable option than the traditional tuberculosis test for children who are needle-shy, or in developing countries where medical care is limited.
He added that it's like putting on a bandage, as long as the patch is applied on the skin, the test is always delivered to the same depth underneath the skin.
The research has been published online in the journal Advanced Healthcare Materials.