Among my childhood phobias, a fear of needles is the only one that continues to haunt me in adulthood. So I was interested to read that researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have developed a new gadget capable of delivering a tiny, high-pressure jet of medicine through the skin without the use of a hypodermic needle.
Popular Science reports:
It’s similar to a normal syringe, except instead of a needle plunger, it uses a Lorentz force actuator, made from a magnet surrounded by a conductive coil. When a current is turned on, the magnetic field interacts with the current to produce a force. That force kicks a piston, which ejects a drug that has been embedded inside the capsule. The speed of the ejection and the depth it will reach can be controlled by altering the current.
To penetrate the skin, the ejection happens at ultra high speeds, almost equivalent to the speed of sound through air. The drug flows through an opening that’s about as wide as a mosquito proboscis, according to MIT News.
Researchers led by Ian Hunter and Catherine Hogan tested a prototype device with two different velocities: One can breach the skin and reach deep into tissue, and another can deliver drugs more slowly, so they can be absorbed by the skin. Different people would need different piston velocities …
While the device won’t be ready for the upcoming flu season, I take some comfort in knowing that the research on making injections less painful is progressing.
Previously: Researchers turn to mosquito to design painless needle
Photo by Indiana Public Media