Ever had trypanophobia (fear of hypodermic needles)? You are not alone, an estimated 10 percent of the population has needle phobia, but the solution might just be around the corner. Two technologies, one by MIT and the other by Pantech Biosolutions, have the potential to deliver quick, painless injections.
Scientists at MIT have developed a device that delivers a tiny, high-pressure jet of medicine through the skin without the use of a hypodermic needle. The device can be programmed to deliver a range of doses to various depths. The idea is to shoot an extremely thin, extremely fast jet (close to the speed of sound in air) of medicine straight through skin and into muscle, causing minimal pain. The team reported this technology in the journal Medical Engineering & Physics.
Ian Hunter, the project leader and mechanical engineering professor, explains how the injector uses a piston made from a coil of wire wrapped around a magnet (called a Lorentz-force actuator), with a computer chip that controls the speed and pressure of the jet. The technology could allow people that constantly handle needles to avoid infections by pricking accidents, and help with compliance problems for diabetes patients who have to constantly pump insulin into their system.
Pantech Biosolutions has been approved to use an innovative needle called PLEASE (Painless Laser Epidermal System). Instead of piercing your skin with tubes of metal, Pantech’s device, known as PLEASE (Painless Laser Epidermal System), blazes a bunch of tiny holes in your skin using a powerful laser beam. PLEASE channels powerful infra-red light from the laser onto a moving mirror, and then onto many tiny spots of the patient’s skin for a precisely controlled amount of time. The light zaps “micropores” through your epidermis (the outer layer of skin) and then a drug-soaked patch is applied on the top, from where the drug molecules make their way through the pores and over time into the patient’s bloodstream.
Ian Hunter is a professor of mechanical engineering at MIT. He got his PhD and BSc at the University of Auckland, New Zealand. Pantech Biosolutions provides solutions for the intraepidermal drug delivery system.