The present invention generally relates to skin treatment and rejuvenation, and more specifically relates to a skin treatment device including polymeric microneedles, and non-therapeutic methods of treating skin using these devices.
Human dermis is a layer of skin between the epidermis and subcutaneous tissue. The epidermis, serves as a barrier to protect the body against microbial pathogens, oxidant stress (UV light), water loss and chemical compounds, and provides mechanical resistance. The subcutaneous tissue consists of connective tissue and functions as a cushion for the body from stress and strain. The dermis is tightly connected to the epidermis through a basement membrane. Structural components of the dermis are collagen, elastic fibers, glycosaminoglycan, and extra fibrillar matrix. The glycosaminoglycan, e.g. hyaluronan, has multiple functions such as, to ensure good hydration, to assist in the organization of the extracellular matrix (ECM), to act as a filler material, and to participate in tissue repair mechanisms. The extracellular matrix plays an important role in skin aging: in young skin, the collagen fibers form a three-dimensional network. The fibroblasts bind to collagen fibrils via multiple contact sites (integrins) on their surface. This binding builds up a tensile stress, which balances the synthesis of collagen and collagen-degrading matrix-metalloproteins in the fibroblasts. In aged skin, the structure of the extracellular matrix is damaged by collagen breakdown - partial fragmentation of the collagen.
Skin aging is a progressive phenomenon, occurs over time and can be affected by lifestyle factors, such as alcohol consumption, tobacco and sun exposure. *Aging of the facial skin can be characterized by atrophy, slackening, and fattening. Atrophy corresponds to a massive reduction of the thickness of skin tissue. Slackening of the subcutaneous tissues leads to an excess of skin and ptosis and leads to the appearance of drooping cheeks and eye lids. Fattening refers to an increase in excess weight by swelling of the bottom of the face and neck. These changes are typically associated with dryness, loss of elasticity, and rough texture.
To improve cell function of skin, there are two main approaches: one is to supply skin cells with essential building blocks through oral nutrition and supplements or topical creams and serums or vigorous daily exercise to increase blood-flow and encourage the lymphatic system; the other approach relates to optimizing release of growth factors, i.e. substances that cause cells to differentiate, proliferate and/or grow, and cytokines which signal molecules released by cells to communicate with other cells. However, applying active ingredients topically to skin in order to improve cell function has generally not been highly effective, likely due to the impermeable nature of stratum corneum and other superficial layers of the epidermis.
Non-invasive or low-invasive techniques and devices for facilitating delivery of beneficial agents into skin have been proposed. For example, microneedle devices have been used to create numerous shallow punctures in the dermis, with the goal of enabling better penetration of topical compositions into the punctured skin. Such microneedle devices are used to perforate the skin and topical compositions are then sometimes applied to the punctured skin. Patent document WO 2014/041531
discloses delivery devices and methods for skin augmentation.
There remains an unmet need for better methods, devices and treatments for improving skin conditions, for example, in order to optimize skin health and improve outward appearance.
The present invention provides a non-therapeutic method and a device for use in a method of treatment according to the claims. The methods and devices of the invention are for benefitting skin, for example, by enhancing penetration of skin for more effective delivery of drugs, pharmaceuticals, antioxidants, vitamins, and other beneficial agents.
In one embodiment, a skin treatment device is provided. The device includes microneedles which are designed to more effectively deliver beneficial agents to the skin. The device comprises a substrate, and an arrangement, for example, an array of microneedles projecting from the substrate. The microneedles are comprised of a biodegradable polymer, wherein the polymeric material comprises crosslinked hyaluronic acid. The microneedles may further include an additive, for example, a vitamin or other beneficial agent.
The device is designed such that the arrangement of microneedles will facilitate penetration of the microneedles into the skin, for example into the stratum corneum, when the device is applied to the skin. For example, the arrangement of microneedles comprises microneedles having different lengths from one another. For example, the array may comprise alternating first and second microneedles, wherein the first microneedles have a first length and second microneedles have a second length different from the first length.
In some embodiments, the device may include a first region sized and/or shaped to cover a first portion of skin to be treated, and a second region adjacent and connected to the first region, the second region sized and/or shaped to cover a second portion of skin to be treated. In some embodiments, the first region includes first microneedles projecting from the substrate and having a first length, and the second region includes second microneedles projecting from the substrate and having a second length, different from the first length, projecting from the first region and second microneedles having a second height different from the first height, projecting from the second region.
Non-therapeutic methods of treating skin are also provided. In one embodiment, a non-therapeutic method of treating skin comprises the step of facilitating penetration of microneedles into skin by drawing an area of skin to be treated toward an array of microneedles, for example using suction or a vacuum.
In yet another aspect of the invention, a skin treatment assembly is provided comprising a first patch having a first shape for covering a portion of a face to be treated and including a first array of microneedles and a second patch having a second shape different from the first shape for covering another portion of a face to be treated and including a second array of microneedles different from the first array.
In some embodiments, the first array comprises microneedles having a first length and the second array comprises microneedles having a second length different from the first length. In other embodiments, the first array comprises microneedles having a first spacing and the second array comprises microneedles having a second spacing different from the first spacing.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
The present invention may be more readily understood and/or the advantages thereof better appreciated by considering the following Detailed Description and accompanying drawings of which:
Figure 1 shows an SEM image of a portion of a PRIOR ART microneedle device;
Figures 2a-2c illustrate, in simplified form, the mechanism of action of the PRIOR ART microneedle device shown in Figure 1;
Figures 3a-3c illustrate, in simplified form, a mechanism of action of a microneedle device of an embodiment of the present invention;
Figure 4 shows a balloon representing skin, being pressed against an array of nails representing a PRIOR ART microneedle array;
Figures 5a and 5b show, in simplified form, an array of microneedles in some embodiments of the invention, and penetration of skin thereby;
Figures 6a and 6b show, in simplified form, an array of microneedles in other embodiments of the invention, and penetration of skin thereby;
Figure 7 shows yet another embodiment of the invention;
Figure 8 illustrates an assembly in accordance with some embodiments of the invention, useful for treating skin using layered microneedle devices;
Figures 9 and 10 illustrate, in simplified form, embodiments of the invention using negative pressure to enhance effectiveness of the present invention; and
Figures 11, 12 and 13 illustrate yet other embodiments of the invention.
Turning to Figure 1, a SEM image of a portion of a PRIOR ART microneedle device 1 is shown. The microneedles 2 have a uniform length, shape and spacing. As illustrated in Figure 2a through 2c, the microneedles 2 are generally used to prick or penetrate skin 3 at very superficial, shallow depths (Figure 2a), to mechanically make the skin 3 more porous (Figure 2b) and, theoretically, to permit penetration of topical agents 4 into the deeper layers of the skin (Figure 2c).
In accordance with the present invention, polymeric microneedles, and arrays of such microneedles, coupled with both simple and complex geometries and arrangements, have been developed for more effectively delivering pharmaceuticals, drugs, and other beneficial agents to skin. Delivery of such agents and ingredients may enhance the look and feel of the skin, by promoting hydration and improving skin texture and elasticity.
In one aspect of the invention, the microneedles comprise a biocompatible polymeric material. In some embodiments, the microneedles comprise a polymeric material that is biodegradable or dissolvable in skin. In some embodiments, the microneedles comprise a mixture of a polymeric material and an active agent beneficial to skin. The claims disclose the polymeric material to comprise crosslinked hyaluronic acid.
Suitable polymeric materials include polymethylmethacrylate (PMMA), poly(glycolic acid-co-lactic acid) (PLGA), polyethylene (PE), polycaprolactone (PCL), polypropylene. The polymeric materials may comprise a glycosaminoglycans (GAG), such as hyaluronan, chondroitin, heparin, collagen, fibroin, elastin, various polysaccharides, cellulose derivatives, and the like. In some embodiments, the microneedles comprise a blend or combination of different polymers.
The beneficial agent may be any beneficial ingredient for improving skin, for example improving skin health, texture, hydration, or elasticity. Such agents include vitamins (for example, A, C, B), antioxidants, skin-whitening agents, peptides and growth factors.
In some embodiments, the polymeric material is a polysaccharide, for example, hyaluronic acid. In some embodiments, the beneficial agent and the polymeric material are both hyaluronic acid. In some embodiments, the polymeric material is a crosslinked polymer, for example as claimed, crosslinked hyaluronic acid. Crosslinking of hyaluronic acid may be accomplished in any suitable manner known to those of skill in the art.
To make the present microneedle devices, a precursor composition is provided, for example, a polymeric gel composition including, or without, one or more beneficial additives. The precursor composition may be made using known techniques for example, known techniques for making hyaluronic acid-based dermal filler gels. The gel may be formed into gel microneedles using, for example, micromolding technologies. The microneedles project from a substrate to facilitate handling. The substrate may be the same material as the microneedles, or may be a different material. The substrate may be any suitable flexible substrate, such as a fabric, sheet or membrane. The formed gel microneedles may be then be allowed to become, or may be caused to become, dried, hardened projections that will penetrate skin.
Hyaluronic acid is a non-sulfated glycosaminoglycan that enhances water retention and resists hydrostatic stresses. It is non-immunogenic and can be chemically modified in numerous fashions. Hyaluronic acid may be anionic at pH ranges around or above the pKa of its carboxylic acid groups. Unless clearly indicated otherwise, reference to hyaluronic acid, hyaluronan, or HA herein may include its fully protonated, or nonionic form as depicted below, as well as any anionic forms and salts of hyaluronic acid, such as sodium salts, potassium salts, lithium salts, magnesium salts, calcium salts, etc.
Turning now to Figures 3a-3c, in one aspect, a skin treatment device 10 is provided which allows for a "poke, dissolve and release" mechanism. For example, the device 10 may comprise a substrate 11, and an arrangement, for example, an array, of microneedles 12 projecting from the substrate 11 (Figure 3a). The microneedles 12 comprise a polymeric component and an active pharmaceutical, drug or other beneficial agent. The agent may be combined with, mixed in, encapsulated, or crosslinked with or into, the polymer component. The microneedles 12 are structured to be capable of penetrating the skin 3 (Figure 3b), for example, the epidermis, and are released in the tissues below the skin surface and dissolved (Figure 3c). Dissolution of the polymeric component of the microneedle causes release of the beneficial agent into the skin, for example, as the polymer breaks down, biodegrades or dissolves.
One drawback with PRIOR ART microneedle technology, such as the microneedles shown with Figure 1 described above is that all of the needles are of the same shape, length and are uniformly spaced apart. However, the natural elasticity of skin often prevents individual needles from effectively penetrating the skin. This concept is graphically illustrated in Figure 4. An inflated balloon 5 is used to represent skin, and an array 6 of nails 7 with identical lengths is used to represent a prior art microneedle device having microneedles all of the same length. As illustrated, the nail tips are generally unable to penetrate or puncture through the balloon 5, or at least not without substantial pressures being applied between the balloon and the array of nails.
Advantageously, referring now to Figures 5a-5c, in some embodiments of the invention, a skin treatment device 20 is provided comprising a microneedle array 22 comprising microneedles projecting from a substrate 26. The microneedle array 22 comprises needles of differing or varying lengths (sometimes referred to as "heights." For example, the device 20 comprises first microneedles 32 having a first length and second microneedles 34 having a second length different from the first length. First microneedles 32 and second microneedles 34 may be disposed in an alternating fashion, for example, in ones, twos, threes, or more. The microneedles 32, 34 may be arranged in a set pattern or may be arranged randomly.
In some embodiments, the first length is at least about 1% greater in length than the second length. For example, in some embodiments, the first length is at least about 5%, at least about 10%, at least about 20%, at least about 30%, at least about 40%, at least about 50%, at least about 60%, at least about 70%, at least about 80%, at least about 90%, at least about 100%, at least about 150%, at least about 200%, at least about 300%, at least about 500%, at least about 800%, or at least about 1000% greater in length than the second length. In some embodiments, the first microneedles may have a length that is at least about 10% to about 200% greater than the length of the second microneedles. For example, the first microneedles have a length that is about 30%, or about 40%, or about 50%, or about 60%, or about 70%, or about 80%, or about 90%, or about 100%, or about 110%, or about 120%, or about 130%, or about 140%, or about 150%, or about 160%, or about 170%, or about 180%, or about 190%, or about 200% or greater than the length of the second microneedles.
The device 20 is structured to be more effective in penetrating skin 4, for example, relative to an otherwise identical PRIOR ART device 1 having needles all of the same length, such as described above. By alternating needle length, the pressure of individual tall needles, for example, needles 32, is increased and therefore potentially increases the number and amount of microneedles ultimately capable of penetrating the skin. This might be better appreciated by referring to Figure 5b.
The microneedles 32, 34 may comprise a mixture of a polymeric material and an active agent beneficial to skin. The array 22 may be formed by molding the microneedles 32, 34 using conventional molding techniques.
Another embodiment of the invention is shown in Figures 6a and 6b. In this case, a device 40, similar to device 20, is provided, which comprises array 41 comprising microneedles 42, 44, 46 of at least three or more different lengths.
It is known that different areas of the facial skin have different dermal thicknesses. For example, the tear troughs, that is, the skin directly under the eyes, have extremely thin dermal layers, while the chin region of the face has a relatively thick dermis. It is contemplated that by varying the multiple needle lengths, as described herein, various devices in accordance with the invention can be made which provide a desired penetration profile of selected facial areas.
In some embodiments of the invention, microneedles are provided which have a beneficial depth of penetration, depending upon the patient's age, skin type, and/or area of skin being treated. For example, in one aspect of the invention, a skin treatment device is provided which comprises a substrate having a first region including microneedles having a first length, and a second region adjacent the first region and including microneedles having a second length that is different from the first length.
Turning now to Figure 7, in another embodiment, a patch device 50 is provided that includes certain regions with particular needle arrays, which takes into account variances in dermal thicknesses of a patient. This may facilitate efficient drug delivery to various areas of the face, for example. For example, device 50 is in the form of a patch having array 52 for the nose bridge, and a different array 54 for the thinner facial region adjacent the nose. The device 50 is thus in the form of a single patch that is capable of effectively delivering drugs or beneficial agents to different regions of the skin, in this case, the nose bridge and the cheeks and/or tear trough, at a depth of penetration suitable for the skin region, based on the different arrangements of microneedles.
Generally, in order for microneedles to effectively dissolve and release within the skin to provide a benefit for skin rejuvenation, the depth of penetration may be between about 25 µm to about 2000 µm, for example, about 100 µm to about 1000 µm. In some embodiments, the microneedles have a length of less than 100 µm, and in some embodiments, the microneedles have a length of greater than 1000 µm, for example, up to about 2000 µm. In some embodiments, the microneedles, for example, the longest microneedles in the arrangement, have a length of between about 200 µm and about 600 µm, for example, about 400 µm, or even more specifically, about 420 µm to about 480 µm.
In one embodiment, a skin treatment device in accordance with the invention comprises a substrate and spaced apart hyaluronic acid-based microneedles projecting from the substrate, wherein the microneedles have a length of between about 420 µm and 480 µm, a base of between about 200 µm and about 300 µm, for example, a base of about 270 µm, and a tip width of less than 20 µm, for example, a tip width of about 5 µm.
For use in the tear trough region, in one embodiment, the microneedles, for example, the first microneedles, have a length less than about 500 µm, for example, between about 100 µm to about 500 µm, for example, a length of about 400 µm, for example, a length of about 300 µm, for example, a length of about 200 µm. For use in the chin region, the microneedles have a length greater than about 500 µm, for example, a length of between about 500 µm to about 2000 µm, for example, a length of about 600 µm, for example, a length of about 700 µm, for example, a length of about 800 µm, for example, a length of up to about 1000 µm, of up to about 2000 µm.
In another embodiment, the first microneedles have a length of about 1000 µm and the second microneedles have a length of about 500 µm. For example, the first microneedles may be in the region of the patch for application on the nose of the patient, where the skin in relatively thick, and the second microneedles may be in a region of the patch that is intended for the regions of skin directly adjacent the nose, where the skin is relatively thin.
In other embodiments, the first microneedles have a length of about 800 µm and the second microneedles have a length of about 200 µm. In yet another embodiment, the first microneedles have a length of about 500 µm and the second microneedles have a length of about 300 µm.
It is further contemplated that the device may comprise microneedles having a third length different from the first and second length, and a fourth length different from the first second and third lengths.
Spacing between adjacent microneedles may be uniform or non-uniform across the microneedle arrangement. For example, in some embodiments, spacing between microneedles is substantially uniform. Spacing may be between about 100 µm and about 2000 µm, for example, 200 µm, about 300 µm, about 400 µm, about 500 µm, about 600 µm, about 700 µm, about 800 µm, about 900 µm, about 1000 µm, about 1100 µm, about 1200 µm, about 1300 µm, about 1400 µm, about 1500 µm, about 1600 µm, about 1700 µm, about 1800 µm, about 1900 µm, or about 2000 µm, or greater, between adjacent microneedles.
In yet another embodiment, illustrated in Figure 8, the present invention provides a skin treatment device 70 comprising a plurality of stages, or layers 72, 74, 76, 78. The layers 72, 74, 76, 78 may be designed to be applied to the skin in an overlapping fashion. The device 70 provides custom treatment for a patient depending upon the type of skin, or the amount or type of active agent to be delivered. For example, device 70 may be used to create different layered microneedle patches 80, 82, each tailored to a patient's unique skin qualities.
Each of the layers, for example, layer 72, may comprise a substrate 72 having spacing or perforations 72 and microneedles 72a located generally between the spacing. The needles 72a may be throttled to permit a number of layers to be stacked on one another, with needles of adjacent layers extending in the spacing between needles of other adjacent layers.
For example, for use in a patient having a rougher, more deflective skin, layered patch 80 comprising fewer layers 72, 74, and thus a lower density of needles, may be utilized to treat the skin. For a patient having a relatively softer skin, a patch 82 comprising more layers, such as layers 72, 74, 76 and 78, and thus a higher density of needles, could be used to treat the skin. For example, a single layer, for example, layer 72 may be used for treatment of a patient having rough, more deflective skin. A layered patch 80, comprising a combination of layer 72 and layer 74, may be used for treatment of a patient having semi-rough, less deflective skin. A patient with relatively smooth skin may be treated with a denser needle array, for example, a layered patch 82 comprising a combination of layers 72, 74, 76 and 78.
The layers 72, 74, 76, 78 could be pre-assembled before being applied to the skin, or could be layered during a treatment session while on the skin.
In some embodiments, each of layers 72, 74, 76 and 78 comprises a different specific needle length, such that when the layers are placed together, the assembly provides a desired treatment profile.
For example, layer 72 may include only relatively long needles 72a and layer 78 may comprise only relatively short needles 78a. In some embodiments, each layer comprises needles of appropriate needle length to effectively deliver an equivalent amount of active agent per needle.
In some embodiments, each of layers 72, 74, 76 and 78 comprises a different, specific pharmaceutical, or other beneficial agent, such that when the layers are placed together, the assembly provides a desired treatment profile, for example, made up of a combination of such agents.
For example, layer 72 may include needles 72a comprising hyaluronic acid and Vitamin C as an active agent, while layer 74 includes needles 74a having hyaluronic acid and Vitamin E as an active agent. Thus, patch 80, comprising layered 72 and 74, can be used to deliver both hyaluronic acid, Vitamin C and Vitamin E.
In yet another embodiment, as show in simplified form in Figure 9, a method of treating skin is provided. The method comprises drawing an area of skin 3 to be treated toward a microneedle device, for example, device 10, or any other microneedle device in accordance with the invention as described elsewhere herein. The method comprises using negative pressure, for example by means of a vacuum mechanism 90 having vacuum chamber 92, in order to stretch the skin and enhance penetration of microneedles into the skin 3. This method reduces deflection of the skin away from the needles and improves the number of needles that penetrate the skin and/or depth of needle penetration.
Any suitable vacuum or negative pressure mechanism may be used to accomplish more effective needle penetration in accordance with this embodiment. For example, in one embodiment, the vacuum mechanism 90 includes essentially no moving parts, and vacuum chamber 92 supplies negative pressure to draw the surface of skin 3 toward microneedle device 10. The microneedle device 10 can be flexibly sealed against the walls of the chamber such as by means of a rubber or other suitable material gasket, thus allowing the device 10 to move toward skin while maintaining a vacuum.
As depicted in Figure 9, the skin 3 may experience maximum deflection in the central area within the vacuum chamber 92. It is contemplated that in order to compensate for uneven deflection, the microneedles at the perimeter of the device 10 can be made longer than the needles in the inner portion thereof. Another means to address uneven skin deflection caused by the vacuum is to provide an appropriately sized vacuum area so that the micro-needle penetration area is sufficient for therapeutic coverage but small enough to permit consistency. For example, as illustrated in Figure 10, multiple vacuum chambers 94, for example, seven vacuum chambers, located within a single housing 96, may be used to provide more consistent needle penetration and to enable coverage of a larger skin area in single application.
Turning now to Figure 11, in yet another embodiment of the invention, device 110 of the invention is in the form of a stretchable mask. Device 110 may be similar to devices 10, 20, 40, 50, 70, 80 and 82, and may include one or more of the features already described. Device 110 may have substrate in a generic face shape, for example, with cutouts 112 for the eyes, lips, and/or and any other areas. Either the substrate only, or the entire device 110 including the microneedles, can be made of a stretchable material. As illustrated, arrangements of microneedles of the device 110 can be different for treating different locations of the face. For example, the needle length, density of needles, or needle geometry can be altered depending on the region of the face they are intended to treat. For example, microneedles 112 are provided for treatment below the eye, microneedles 112b are provided for treatment of the cheek region, and microneedles 112c are provided for treatment of the chin region.
Alternatively, turning now to Figure 12, instead of one large mask-like device such as shown in Figure 11, in some embodiments, device 210 is provided which comprises separate, discrete patches 212 are provided for specific areas of the face. This is illustrated in Figure 12. The ability of the discrete patches to overlap allows the patches to accommodate many potential face shapes and sizes. In this embodiment, area specific microneedle patches are applied independently across a patient's face. Each patch may include the same or different arrangements of microneedles, for example, arrangements 212a, 212b, 212c. For example, the needle length, density of needles, type or dosage of beneficial agent, or even needle geometry can be altered depending on where on the region of the face they will be used to treat.
Another embodiment, illustrated in Figure 13, is provided which generally comprises an assembly 310 comprising microneedle strips 312 which may be applied to skin in rows, or other patterns, to obtain the precise coverage desirable for a patient. Such strips 312 may be provided in the form of a roll 314 of tape 316. The tape 314 may have features that indicate which side of the tape contains the microneedles. This may be a color, text, or shape indication. This embodiment allows rapid large surface area application over a wide variety of patient anatomies.
Similar to unique needle geometries among the face specific patch embodiments, several strip "types" may be provided that can be used during a single procedure. Each strip may be used on specific areas of the face, with needles on each strip with unique needle length, density of needles, needle geometry, etc. The microneedle geometries may be unique to specific "tapes" to be applied on certain regions of the face.
Preparation of Microneedle Device in accordance with an embodiment, using Hyaluronic Acid (HA)
 Preparation of HA gel hydrate
: HA gel hydrates were made by hydrating low molecular weight (LMW) HA (Mw is about 340,000 to about 840,000 Da) in deionized (DI) water or phosphate buffered saline (PBS). For a 12 wt% of LMW HA, approximately 1.20 g of LMW HA and 8.80 g of DI water were mixed in a 20 mL syringe. The mixture was left at room temperature for 24 hours to achieve a uniform hydrogel. The gel was then transferred to a 1.0 mL syringes and centrifuged at 4000 rpm for 5.0 min.
 HA gel casting
: The casting of HA gel includes two steps, casting and pre-concentrating. In the casting step, HA gel was cast on the negative silicone microneedle mold and upon evaporation of water at room temperature or in an oven, the solution formed a viscous paste on the top of the mold. For example, 0.65 mL of a 12 wt% HA gel was cast onto the center of the negative silicone mold. The gel together with the silicone mold was placed into an oven which was pre-set at 40 °C. After 1.50 hours of incubation, the gel formed a paste and was removed from the oven for the compression step.
 Pressing and post-incubation:
The HA paste together with the negative silicone microneedle mold was placed on a compressor. A PTFE film was placed on top of the HA paste. The compression pressure was set to 20 psi initially, then increased to 50 psi at a constant rate over a period of 30 seconds and held at this pressure for another 30 seconds.
 Needle formation
: After pressing, the PTFE film was removed and a flat layer of HA remained on top of the mold. The mold was then placed into a 40 °C oven for 2.5 hours. The dried micro-needle batch was then removed from the mold and sent for characterizations by SEM and x-ray CT.