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Mark Prausnitz - Georgia Tech College of Engineering. Atlanta, GA, US

Mark Prausnitz

Professor, Director of Center for Drug Design, Development, and Delivery, Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering | Georgia Tech College of Engineering


Mark Prausnitz and his colleagues carry out research on biophysical methods of drug delivery.






Dr. Prausnitz Micro Needle Eye Treatments - Ramblin' Research Microneedles for Polio Vaccination DIY Vaccination with Microneedle Patch US scientists invent new vaccine patch The Remarkable Microneedle Patch




Dr. Prausnitz and his colleagues carry out research on biophysical methods of drug delivery, which employ microneedles, ultrasound, lasers, electric fields, heat, convective forces and other physical means to control the transport of drugs, proteins, genes and vaccines into and within the body. A major area of focus involves the use of microneedle patches to administer vaccines to the skin in a painless, minimally invasive manner that improves vaccine effectiveness by targeting delivery to the skin’s immune cells. In collaboration with Emory University, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other organizations, Dr. Prausnitz’s group is advancing microneedles from device design and fabrication through pharmaceutical formulation and preclinical animal studies through studies in human subjects. In addition to developing a self-administered influenza vaccine using microneedles, Dr. Prausnitz is translating microneedles technology especially to make vaccination in developing countries more effective.

The Prausnitz group has also developed hollow microneedles for injection into the skin and into the eye in collaboration with Emory University. In the skin, research focuses on insulin administration to human diabetic patients to increase onset of action by targeting insulin delivery to the skin. In the eye, hollow microneedles enable precise targeting of injection to the suprachoroidal space and other intraocular tissues for minimally invasive delivery to treat macular degeneration, glaucoma and other ocular diseases. Dr. Prausnitz and colleagues also study novel mechanisms to deliver proteins, DNA and other molecules into cells. Bubble activity generated by laser-excitation of carbon nanoparticles breaks open small sections of the cell membrane and thereby enables entry of molecules, which is useful for targeted and intracellular drug delivery.

In addition to research activities, Dr. Prausnitz teaches an introductory course on engineering calculations, as well as two advanced courses on pharmaceuticals, both of which he developed. He also serves the broader scientific and business communities as a frequent consultant, company founder and expert witness.

Dr. Prausnitz is a Regents’ Professor, the J. Erskine Love Jr. Professor in Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering, and director of the Center for Drug Design, Development and Delivery.

Areas of Expertise (4)


Materials and Nanotechnology

Biophysical Methods of Drug Delivery

Complex Systems

Selected Accomplishments (1)

MIT Technology Review Innovators Under 35


Education (2)

Massachusetts Institute of Technology: Ph.D., Chemical Engineering 1994

Stanford University: Chemical Engineering, B.S. 1988

Selected Media Appearances (5)

A New mHealth Patch Could Help Clinicians With Remote Monitoring  online


mHealth researchers are working on a patch that can collect biomarkers from a patient, giving providers a new resource for painless and unobtrusive remote patient monitoring programs.

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A Painless Skin Patch Simplifies Diagnostic Tests

Newswise  online


Many diagnostic tests require blood, but NIBIB-funded researchers have developed a skin patch with tiny needles that painlessly collect interstitial fluid (ISF) for testing. Diagnostic tests can measure trace amounts of essential proteins or hormones in the blood called biomarkers. High or low levels of biomarkers are specific indicators for a disease. In the new test, a unique paper on the patch’s backing stores small amounts ISF, where it remains for analysis. Researchers think the ISF patch will simplify diagnostic testing and enable the continuous monitoring of biomarkers. Monitoring biomarkers is crucial because doctors routinely use them to diagnose and monitor patients at risk for cancer, heart disease, and diabetes.

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These ‘Contraceptive Earrings’ Could Be Used to Prevent Pregnancy

Geek  online


In the future, family planning for women might be as easy as putting on a pair of earrings. A report, which was recently published in the Journal of Controlled Release, details an advanced technique for administering contraceptive hormones through special backings on various types of jewelry, including earrings, necklaces, rings, and wristwatches, Georgia Institute of Technology said in a press release. The hormones are contained in tiny patches that could be put on parts of jewelry that contact the skin, enabling the drugs to be absorbed into the body, Mirror reported.

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Contraceptive jewelry could offer a new family planning approach

EurekAlert!  online


Family planning for women might one day be as simple as putting on an earring. A report published recently in the Journal of Controlled Release describes a technique for administering contraceptive hormones through special backings on jewelry such as earrings, wristwatches, rings or necklaces. The contraceptive hormones are contained in patches applied to portions of the jewelry in contact with the skin, allowing the drugs to be absorbed into the body.

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Long-Acting Contraceptive Designed to be Self-Administered Via Microneedle Patch

Research Horizons  online


A new long-acting contraceptive designed to be self-administered by women may provide a new family planning option, particularly in developing nations where access to health care can be limited, a recent study suggests. The contraceptive would be delivered using microneedle skin patch technology originally developed for the painless administration of vaccines.

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Patents (3)

Methods and devices for thermal treatment


2014 The present invention comprises methods and devices for thermal treatment of a barrier to increase the permeability of the barrier. One form of increasing the permeability of the barrier comprises forming micropores which may be used for administration of active agents across the barrier, or may be used for sampling or collecting fluids, or may be used for detecting, measuring or determining analytes, or may be used for monitoring of physiological or other conditions. Devices of the present invention may comprise microheaters that are activated by inductive or ohmic heating power supply components.

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Methods and devices for drug delivery to ocular tissue using microneedle


2014 Methods and devices are provided for targeted administration of a drug to a patient's eye. In one embodiment, the method includes inserting a hollow microneedle into the sclera of the eye at an insertion site and infusing a fluid drug formulation through the inserted microneedle and into the suprachoroidal space of the eye, wherein the infused fluid drug formulation flows within the suprachoroidal space away from the insertion site during the infusion. The fluid drug formulation may flow circumferentially toward the retinochoroidal tissue, macula, and optic nerve in the posterior segment of the eye.

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Coated microstructures and method of manufacture thereof


2013 Coated microneedle devices and methods of making such devices are provided. In one aspect, a method for coating includes providing a microstructure having at least one surface in need of coating; and applying a coating liquid, which comprises at least one drug, to the at least one surface of the microstructure, wherein the surface energy of the coating liquid is less than the surface energy of the surface of the microstructure. The coating liquid may include a viscosity enhancer and surfactant. Microneedles having heterogeneous coatings, pockets, or both are also provided.

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Selected Articles (5)

Extended delivery of vaccines to the skin improves immune responses

Journal of Controlled Release

JC Joyce, HE Sella, H Jost, MJ Mistilis, ES Esser, P Pradhan, R Toy, ML Collins, PA Rota, K Roy, I Skountzou, RW Compans, MS Oberste, WC Weldon, JJ Norman, MR Prausnitz

2019 Vaccines prevent 2–3 million childhood deaths annually; however, low vaccine efficacy and the resulting need for booster doses create gaps in immunization coverage. In this translational study, we explore the benefits of extended release of licensed vaccine antigens into skin to increase immune responses after a single dose in order to design improved vaccine delivery systems. By administering daily intradermal injections of inactivated polio vaccine according to six different delivery profiles, zeroth-order release over 28 days resulted in neutralizing antibody titers equivalent to two bolus vaccinations administered one month apart. Vaccinations following this profile also improved immune responses to tetanus toxoid and subunit influenza vaccine but not a live-attenuated viral vaccine, measles vaccine. Finally, using subunit influenza vaccine, we demonstrated that daily vaccination by microneedle patch induced a potent, balanced humoral immunity with an increased memory response compared to bolus vaccination. We conclude that extended presentation of antigen in skin via intradermal injection or microneedle patch can enhance immune responses and reduce the number of vaccine doses, thereby enabling increased vaccination efficacy.

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Plasmonic Paper Microneedle Patch for On-Patch Detection of Molecules in Dermal Interstitial Fluid

ACS Sensors

C Kolluru, R Gupta, Q Jiang, M Williams, HG Derami, S Cao, R Noel, S Singamaneni, MR Prausnitz

2019 Minimally invasive devices to detect molecules in dermal interstitial fluid (ISF) are desirable for point-of-care diagnostic and monitoring applications. In this study, we developed a microneedle (MN) patch that collects ISF for on-patch biomarker analysis by surface-enhanced Raman scattering (SERS). The micrometer-scale MNs create micropores in the skin surface, through which microliter quantities of ISF are collected onto plasmonic paper on the patch backing. The plasmonic paper was prepared by immobilizing poly(styrenesulfonate) (PSS) coated gold nanorods (AuNRs) on a thin strip of filter paper using plasmonic calligraphy. Negatively charged PSS was used to bind positively charged rhodamine 6G (R6G), which served as a model compound, and thereby localize R6G on AuNR surface. R6G bound on the AuNR surface was detected and quantified by acquiring SERS spectra from the plasmonic paper MN patch. This approach was used to measure pharmacokinetic profiles of R6G in ISF and serum from rats in vivo. This proof-of-concept study indicates that a plasmonic paper MN patch has the potential to enable on-patch measurement of molecules in ISF for research and future medical applications.

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Co-Delivery of M2e Virus-Like Particles with Influenza Split Vaccine to the Skin Using Microneedles Enhances the Efficacy of Cross Protection


MC Kim, KH Kim, JW Lee, YN Lee, HJ Choi, YJ Jung, YJ Kim, RW Compans, MR Prausnitz, SM Kang

2019 It is a high priority to develop a simple and effective delivery method for a cross-protective influenza vaccine. We investigated skin immunization by microneedle (MN) patch with human influenza split vaccine and virus-like particles containing heterologous M2 extracellular (M2e) domains (M2e5x virus-like particles (VLP)) as a cross-protective influenza vaccine candidate. Co-delivery of influenza split vaccine and M2e5x VLP to the skin by MN patch was found to confer effective protection against heterosubtypic influenza virus by preventing weight loss and reducing lung viral loads. Compared to intramuscular immunization, MN-based delivery of combined split vaccine and M2e5x VLPs shaped cellular immune responses toward T helper type 1 responses increasing IgG2a isotype antibodies as well as IFN-γ producing cells in mucosal and systemic sites. This study provides evidence that potential immunological and logistic benefits of M2e5x VLP with human influenza split vaccine delivered by MN patch can be used to develop an easy-to-administer cross-protective influenza vaccine.

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Suprachoroidal drug delivery to the back of the eye using hollow microneedles

Pharmaceutical Research

Samirkumar R. Patel, Angela S. P. Lin, Henry F. Edelhauser, Mark R. Prausnitz

2011 In this work, we tested the hypothesis that microneedles provide a minimally invasive method to inject particles into the suprachoroidal space for drug delivery to the back of the eye.

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Current status and future potential of transdermal drug delivery

Nature Reviews

Mark R. Prausnitz, Samir Mitragotri, Robert Langer

2004 The past twenty five years have seen an explosion in the creation and discovery of new medicinal agents. Related innovations in drug delivery systems have not only enabled the successful implementation of many of these novel pharmaceuticals, but have also permitted the development of new medical treatments with existing drugs. The creation of transdermal delivery systems has been one of the most important of these innovations, offering a number of advantages over the oral route. In this article, we discuss the already significant impact this field has made on the administration of various pharmaceuticals; explore limitations of the current technology; and discuss methods under exploration for overcoming these limitations and the challenges ahead.

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