New Device Injects Drug Without Needles

A new medical device developed by engineers at MIT can inject drugs into the body without using a needle. Benefits include improving patient compliance rates and preventing accidental pricks. 

What's the Latest Development?

A new device developed at MIT can inject drugs into the body without using a needle, improving patient compliance and cutting down on the large number of accidental pricks doctors and nurses give themselves every year. The technology uses a jet-injection system which delivers drugs at high-velocities to varying depths beneath the skin. "The design is built around a mechanism called a Lorentz-force actuator—a small, powerful magnet surrounded by a coil of wire that’s attached to a piston inside a drug ampoule." When electric current is applied, the piston pushes the drug out through the devices nozzle, about the size of a mosquito's proboscis. 

What's the Big Idea?

While several jet-injection systems are currently available to medical professionals, their designs typically permit drugs to be injected at only one velocity, limiting the number of patients who benefit from the technology. "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," said Catherine Hogan of MIT's department of Mechanical Engineering. "We can tailor the pressure profile to be able to do that, and that’s the beauty of this device." The technology could help improve compliance rates, particularly among patients who dread needle pricks yet require frequent injections. 

Photo credit: MIT BioInstrumentation Lab

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