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Medical News

This Won't Hurt a Bit; Researchers Are Developing Painless Alternatives to Needles

September 7, 2010

U.S. researchers are working on developing new technologies that allow patients to receive injectable medicines without needle sticks -- reducing the chance of spreading blood-borne diseases like HIV or hepatitis C and eliminating the need for doctors and nurses to administer the treatments.

A team from Emory University's School of Medicine and Georgia Institute of Technology has developed a Band-Aid-size patch covered with tiny microneedles. The number of needles range from a dozen to more than 100, depending on what type of medicine is being administered and how much. The microneedles, short enough to avoid nerves, are made up of the medicine itself, mixed with a Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved polymer and poured into a mold. What looks like miniscule upside-down ice cream cones are attached to the adhesive patch. The patient presses the patch into his or her arm, and the needles dissolve, leaving just a bandage to be discarded. Animal testing thus far has shown no adverse effects.

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Mark Prausnitz, a professor of chemical and biomedical engineering at Georgia Tech, said the goal is to conduct human clinical trials within the next few years and obtain FDA approval within about five years.

Researchers at the University of California-Santa Barbara are working on a needleless injection that uses a single stream of liquid medicine about as thin as a hair strand. "A high-velocity jet pierces the skin and deposits the drug either into the skin or underneath it," said Samir Mitragotri, a chemical engineering professor at UCSB. Such jet injector technology has been in use for decades, usually to administer insulin, but the UCSB team is developing ways to "keep the penetration shallow and avoid the pain," Mitragotri said.

In Europe, scientists are testing the Painless Laser Epidermal System developed by Liechtenstein-based Pantec Biosolutions. This technology uses a handheld laser to painlessly create hundreds of tiny micropores over which a medicine-filled patch is applied; it reportedly remains a few years from market.

Back to other news for September 2010

Adapted from:
Plain Dealer (Cleveland, OH)
08.24.2010; Diane Suchetka


  
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This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.
 
See Also
Ask Our Expert, David Fawcett, Ph.D., L.C.S.W., About Substance Use and HIV
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