Trends of microneedle technology in the scientific literature, patents, clinical trials and internet activity

Rohan S.J. Ingrole, Erkan Azizoglu, Maria Dul, James C. Birchall, Harvinder S. Gill, Mark R. Prausnitz

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


The powerful and intriguing idea that drives the emerging technology of microneedles—shrinking the standard needle to a micron scale—has fostered an entire field of microneedle study and subsequent exponential growth in research and product development. Originally enabled by microfabrication tools derived from the microelectronic industry, microneedles are now produced through a number of methods in a variety of forms including solid, coated, dissolvable, and hollow microneedles. They are used to deliver a broad spectrum of molecules, including small molecules, biomolecules, and vaccines, as well as various forms of energy into the skin, eye, and other tissues. Microneedles are also being exploited for use in diagnostics, as well as additional medical, cosmetic, and other applications. This review elucidates the relative roles of different aspects of microneedle technology development, as shown through scientific papers, patents, clinical studies, and internet/social media activity. Considering >1000 papers, 750 patents, and almost 80 clinical trials, we analyze different attributes of microneedles such as usage of microneedles, types of microneedles, testing environment, types of patent claims, and phases of clinical trials, as well as which institutions and people in academia and industry from different locations and in different journals are publishing, patenting, and otherwise studying the potential of microneedles. We conclude that there is robust and growing activity in the field of microneedles; the technology is rapidly developing and being used for novel applications to benefit human health and well-being.

Original languageEnglish
Article number120491
StatePublished - Jan 2021


  • Clinical trial
  • Diagnostic device
  • Microneedle
  • Patent
  • Skin patch
  • Transdermal drug delivery


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