Ga. Tech researchers develop long-acting contraceptive that is self-administered via microneedle patch

Researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology have developed a new long-acting contraceptive designed to be self-administered by women.  The technology could provide a new family planning option, particularly in developing nations where access to health care can be limited, according to a recent study.
The contraceptive would be delivered using microneedle skin patch technology originally developed for the painless administration of vaccines, according to a university announcement.

Long-acting contraceptives now available provide the highest level of effectiveness, but usually require a health care professional to inject a drug or implant a device, according to the article. Short-acting techniques, require frequent compliance by users and therefore are often not as effective. In animal testing, an experimental microneedle contraceptive patch provided a therapeutic level of contraceptive hormone for more than a month with a single application to the skin.
When the patch is applied for several seconds, the microscopic needles break off and remain under the surface of the skin, where biodegradable polymers slowly release the contraceptive drug levonorgestrel over time. Originally designed for use in areas of the world with limited access to health care, the microneedle contraceptive could potentially provide a new family planning alternative to a broader population.
The research was reported this month in the journal Nature Biomedical Engineering. The authors are: Wei Li, Richard N. Terry, Jie Tang, Meihua R. Feng, Steven P. Schwendeman and Mark R. Prausnitz.

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