MIT Researchers Develop Needle-Less, Painless Way to Inject Drugs

Scientists at MIT have developed a high-pressure “jet-injection” device that shoots medicine through the skin painlessly at near speed of sound.

It’s like something out of Star Trek: a needleless injection that can deliver medicine painlessly. Photo: MIT

The new device, unveiled by scientists yesterday, can be programmed to deliver a range of doses to varying skin depths.

It may become a relief for those with phobias of needles who may avoid immunisation because of their fears, writes The Daily Mail.

“We were able to fire the drug out at almost the speed of sound if we need to – the speed of sound in air is about 340 meters per second,” said professor Ian Hunter, who runs the bioinstrumentation lab at MIT’s Department of Mechanical Engineering.

“It’s capable of pressurizing the drug up to 100 megapascales (MPas), and we can do that in under a millisecond.”

In the science fiction series Star Trek, the medical officer Leonard ‘Bones’ McCoy would treat injuries with a needleless device.

Researchers now try to invent a similar system which produces a high-velocity jet of drugs to penetrate the skin.

Catherine Hogan, a member of the research team at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said: “If you are afraid of needles and have to frequently self-inject, compliance can be an issue.”

“We think this kind of technology … gets around some of the phobias that people may have about needles.”

One more benefit is that the technology may drastically cut the number of accidents among doctors and nurses who accidentally prick themselves with needles.

Hogan also explained how the device works: “There’s a magnet in the center of our jet injector that’s surrounded by a coil of wire, and when we apply a current to the coil, we create a Lorentz Force that pushes this piston, which forces the drug out of the ampoule.”

She continued: “This gives us a tremendous amount of control depending on how much current we put in, so that we can successfully deliver a wide variety of volumes of drug at a wide variety of velocities with a very low degree of error, something a needle can’t do.”

One more advantage of the device is that doctors would be able to control the speed of the injection throughout the duration of the delivery, so it can be quickened or slowed depending on the drug and the patient.

“We can also change the velocity over the course of a single injection, so it breaches the skin at one velocity, and then disperses the drug at another,” Hogan said.

“We accelerate the coil to the desired speed, hold it there for a defined time, and the decelerate to a lower velocity to disperse and absorb the drug into the tissue.”

Even though this is not the first attempt to create a painless needle, or a new take on the needle, MIT believes this technology is superior with its highly-controlled system for limiting the injection velocity and dosage, but also it’s ability to bring ease to patients with needle phobias.

An instantaneous, painless injection beats a stinging shot any day of the week, writes The International Business Times.

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