Getting a shot at your doctor’s office may become less painful in the not-too-distant future.
MIT researchers have engineered 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 — an improvement over similar jet-injection systems that are now commercially available.
The researchers say that among other benefits, the technology may help reduce the potential for needle-stick injuries; the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that hospital-based health care workers accidentally prick themselves with needles 385,000 times each year. A needleless device may also help improve compliance among patients who might otherwise avoid the discomfort of injecting themselves with drugs such as insulin.
“If you are afraid of needles and have to frequently self-inject, compliance can be an issue,” says Catherine Hogan, a 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.”