Trypanophobes, or people with a fear of medical procedures that involve needles, may have a reason to rejoice thanks to MIT researchers who are developing a needle-free jet injection system. The underlying principle, known as the Lorentz force, is the same that powers the military’s railguns. In brief, a large current is applied across two parallel rods, generating a magnetic force that accelerates a piston to extremely high velocities. The piston then collides with the drug compartment and forces the drug to eject through a small-diameter ampoule and eventually through the skin at speeds up to that of sound, or 340 m/s (768 mph). The video below explains the process further:
Though needle-free drug delivery systems – such as transdermal patches – already exist, many of these are restricted in the consistency and size of the particles being delivered. There are other systems which can deliver larger molecules, but these often are not able to accurately vary either the penetration depth or the dosage. The MIT team’s model is able to do both, as they describe in their paper in Medical Engineering & Physics. It may still take a few years before this or a related system is used widely, but there is hope that this type of technology will significantly reduce the dangerous number of occupational needle-stick injuries (estimated at over 385,000 in the US per year) as well as improve patient medication compliance.
Abstract in Medical Engineering & Physics: Needle-free jet injection using real-time controlled linear Lorentz-force actuators
Article in the MIT News: Device may inject a variety of drugs without using needles…