Media Coverage

October 25, 2016

‘Micro Needle’ Treatment Could Offer Alternative To Surgery For Skin Cancer Patients

90.5 WESA, Pittsburgh’s NPR News Station

By: Mark Nootbaar

According to the Journal of the American Medical Association, one in five Americans will develop skin cancer over the course of their life. But thanks to a new device from a Pittsburgh-based company called Skinject, some people with skin cancer may be able to skip invasive surgeries.

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“Skinject is a totally new approach to handling this problem which is growing throughout the world as more and more people expose their skin to the sun,” said the company’s CEO James Nolan.

Skinject works by using micro needles to deliver a drug topically.

It sprung from a University of Pittsburgh researcher who realized the decades-old drug doxorubicin could be used to activate the body’s immune system to attack basal cell skin cancer.

Skinject takes that drug, combines it with a cellulose-like material and then uses that mixture to create the micro needles. Hundreds of those needles fit on a patch no larger than the pad of a person’s index finger.

“And it literally goes into the skin, dissolves and attacks the basal cell cancer,” Nolan said.

Typically, if a suspicious lesion is found to be cancerous, a dermatologist will surgically remove it. But with Skinject, no surgery is needed.

“Surgery is always costly,” Nolan sad. “And you have the plastic surgery that goes along with it, because if you have the basal cell cancer on your face for example, you don’t want the scarring.”

The company claims its deliver system is better than applying the drug as a cream or with a traditional patch because it ensures the medication passes through the skin barrier and that it gets to the right area at the proper concentrations.

“That fundamentally is the major discovery,” Nolan said.

Nolan said because of the micro needles’ small size, a person won’t feel them sink into the skin.

“The technology is in the angles and the way the needles are made,” Nolan said. “There’s a very sophisticated process in making the micro needles that involves several steps … You couldn’t just make them in your kitchen.”

The company expects to enter phase one and two FDA human clinical trials for basal cell cancer. The goal is that the technology will also be effective in fighting squamous cell cancer and eventually the more deadly melanoma-type skin cancers.

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