Jet Injector Means End Of Painful Needles
Getting an injection at the doctor's office is about to become much less painful. Researchers from MIT developed a device that uses air, instead of a needle, to deliver medicine through the skin at varying depths -- an improvement over current devices.
"If you are afraid of needles and have to frequently self-inject, compliance can be an issue," Catherine Hogan, a research scientist in MIT's department of mechanical engineering, told the Huffington Post. "We think this kind of technology ... gets around some of the phobias that people may have about needles."
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The device uses a powerful magnet and an electric current to inject drugs almost at the speed of sound. By varying the electric current, a drug can be delivered very quickly to a certain depth or in a steady stream for rapid absorption.
The opening on the device is very narrow, approximately the size of a mosquito's proboscis. This helps to deliver the drug at high speeds with a great deal of force. However, not all people need the same amount of force, so it can be changed to suit the patient, unlike current commercial jet injectors.
"If I'm breaching a baby's skin to deliver vaccine, I won't need as much pressure as I would need to breach my skin," Hogan said in a statement. "We can tailor the pressure profile to be able to do that, and that's the beauty of this device."
Current medical injectors use a spring to force liquid out at a fixed speed and pressure. The diameter of the jets are also much larger and not precise, the developers said, which causes more pain.
"I think that's the big difference between this device and other devices, is the degree of precision," Ian Hunter, professor of mechanical engineering at MIT, told NPR. "We have a degree of control that hasn't been possible before."
Samir Mitragotri, a professor of chemical engineering at the University of California at Santa Barbara, who is not involved in the device's development, said the device may be the next big step in drug delivery.
"Commercially available jet injectors ... provide limited control, which limits their applications to certain drugs or patient populations," Mitragotri said in a statement. "[This] design provides excellent control over jet parameters, including speed and doses ... this will enhance the applicability of needleless drug devices."
The details of the device are published in the journal Medical Engineering and Physics.
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