Drug Delivery and Translational Research

, Volume 5, Issue 4, pp 387–396 | Cite as

Towards pain-free diagnosis of skin diseases through multiplexed microneedles: biomarker extraction and detection using a highly sensitive blotting method

  • Keng Wooi NgEmail author
  • Wing Man Lau
  • Adrian C. Williams
Research Article


Immunodiagnostic microneedles provide a novel way to extract protein biomarkers from the skin in a minimally invasive manner for analysis in vitro. The technology could overcome challenges in biomarker analysis specifically in solid tissue, which currently often involves invasive biopsies. This study describes the development of a multiplex immunodiagnostic device incorporating mechanisms to detect multiple antigens simultaneously, as well as internal assay controls for result validation. A novel detection method is also proposed. It enables signal detection specifically at microneedle tips and therefore may aid the construction of depth profiles of skin biomarkers. The detection method can be coupled with computerised densitometry for signal quantitation. The antigen specificity, sensitivity and functional stability of the device were assessed against a number of model biomarkers. Detection and analysis of endogenous antigens (interleukins 1α and 6) from the skin using the device was demonstrated. The results were verified using conventional enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays. The detection limit of the microneedle device, at ≤10 pg/mL, was at least comparable to conventional plate-based solid-phase enzyme immunoassays.


Immunodiagnostic microneedles Microprojection arrays Biomarkers Immobilised antibody Densitometry Skin diagnosis 



The authors thank the staff at the Centre for Advanced Microscopy (University of Reading) for their help with SEM experiments, and staff at the Bioresource Unit (University of Brighton) for donating cadaver mouse skin samples.

Conflict of interest

KWN, WML and ACW declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Study ethics

No animal or human studies were carried out by the authors for this article.


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Copyright information

© Controlled Release Society 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Keng Wooi Ng
    • 1
    Email author
  • Wing Man Lau
    • 2
  • Adrian C. Williams
    • 2
  1. 1.School of Pharmacy and Biomolecular SciencesUniversity of BrightonBrightonUK
  2. 2.Reading School of PharmacyUniversity of ReadingReadingUK

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