Skin Deep

The problem with today’s vaccine needles is simple: they go too deep. That’s why they hurt. We’re working on a better way.


The Challenge

Current needles inject vaccines deep into the muscle. But Kris Hansen, 3M Technical Project Manager, knew that injection into the skin could work better. With the right delivery system, it was possible for vaccination to happen faster, with less pain, and require less vaccine.


Smaller, Shorter Needles

After almost 8 years of development, Hansen and her team created a micro-needle delivery system that can deliver vaccines into the skin. The micro-needle array is composed of 316-1,260 micro-needles, each only the size of a few hairs, stacked on top of each other. So small, they can’t be seen by the naked eye.

“For some vaccines, delivery by micro-needles can provide the same protection with potentially less vaccine. And they feel like a cat’s tongue.”

- Kris Hansen

Technical Project Manager, 3M Drug Delivery Systems Division


The Future

Micro-needle drug delivery systems are still in development, but already we’re looking forward to a future when less vaccine can help more people. And more people can get vaccinated without the anxiety and pain associated with standard needles.

“We could improve the therapy - and the therapeutic experience.”

- Kris Hansen

“It’s hard to imagine another company diverse enough to pursue all the challenges micro-needles present us. I’m lucky to be able to call on experts in adhesives, nanotechnology, you name it, to move this project forward.”

- Kris Hansen