Journal of Controlled Release
Botulinum toxin A (BT) is used therapeutically for the treatment of primary focal hyperhidrosis, a chronic debilitating condition characterised by over-activity of the eccrine sweat glands. Systemic toxicity concerns require BT to be administered by local injection, which in the case of hyperhidrosis means multiple painful intradermal injections by a skilled clinician at 6-monthly intervals. This study investigates the potential of a liquid-loaded pocketed microneedle device to deliver botulinum toxin A into the human dermis with the aim of reducing patient pain, improving therapeutic targeting and simplifying the administration procedure. Initially, -galactosidase was employed as a detectable model for BT to (i) visualise liquid loading of the microneedles, (ii) determine residence time of a liquid formulation on the device and (iii) quantify loaded doses. An array of five stainless steel pocketed microneedles was shown to possess sufficient capacity to deliver therapeutic doses of the potent BT protein. Microneedle-mediated intradermal delivery of -galactosidase and formaldehyde-inactivated botulinum toxoid revealed effective deposition and subsequent diffusion within the dermis. This study is the first to characterise pocketed microneedle delivery of a liquid formulation into human skin and illustrates the potential of such systems for the cutaneous administration of potent proteins such as BT. A clinically appropriate microneedle delivery system for BT could have a significant impact in both the medical and cosmetic industries.