Honors College

Document Type

Honors Thesis


Biomedical Engineering


Kristy Townsend, Rosemary Smith

Committee Members

François Amar, Robert Bowie, Leonard Kass

Graduation Year

May 2020

Publication Date

Spring 5-2020


The growing obesity pandemic has caused diabetes to become one of the world’s leading health concerns. Diabetic individuals often suffer from peripheral neuropathy, which is nerve death that typically starts at the extremities and moves from the skin inward to deeper tissues. This nerve death causes painful symptoms including tingling, stinging, numbness, and others. Current methods to diagnose peripheral neuropathy by measuring nerve function are invasive and painful since they target large axons of the legs; however, by the time the neuropathy reaches the diagnosable axons, it is often too late for intervention. Although no cures for neuropathy are established, aside from analgesics for pain, there are options for mitigating worsening of the disease if diagnosed early enough (for example, glucose control for diabetic neuropathy). There is a critical need for early detection and diagnosis of peripheral neuropathy as obesity and diabetes continue to plague the world. Microneedle fabrication is a growing research area, especially in transdermal drug delivery due to their minimal invasive, pain-free application. The objective of this project is to design a platform using electrically conductive microneedles for early detection of peripheral neuropathy. Using these needles, neurophysiology can be employed to record electrical signal just below the skin to determine the integrity of the nerves to track neuropathy progression. Thus far, prototypes of the device have been tested on mice to establish protocols and understand the hardware and software, with the goal of eventually developing a usable prototype for a longitudinal study of diseased mice and human clinical studies.