MIT Device Delivers Medicine Without a Needle
It seems that science is trying its best to move past the needle as a means to extract biological material and inject vaccines or medicines. Researchers from MIT have developed a device that delivers medicine through a jet-injection and without the use of a hypodermic needle or the need to penetrate the skin.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, healthcare workers accidentally prick themselves an estimated 385,000 times a year. In the United States alone, there are around 26 million people living with diabetes, many who have to inject themselves with insulin daily.
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"If you are afraid of needles and have to frequently self-inject, compliance can be an issue," says Catherine Hogan, a research scientist in MIT's Department of Mechanical Engineering and a member of the research team. "We think this kind of technology ... gets around some of the phobias that people may have about needles."
This device is not the first jet-based injection system but it does offer many advantages to the ones that currently exist. The ones on the market today generally use a spring-loaded action which can only deliver the same amount to the same depth every time. The device invented by Hogan and her team members has the ability to be fine tuned to the patient and the drug being administered.
"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 says. "We can tailor the pressure profile to be able to do that, and that's the beauty of this device."
The device relies on a Lorentz-force actuator - powerful magnet surrounded by a coil of wire that is attached to a piston. The electric current from the wire interacts with the magnetic coil forcing the piston forward at speeds close to the speed of sound through air.