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Needle Free Injections With Microjets 282

IZ Reloaded writes "Do you hate needles? In the near future, the fear of needles would be a thing of a past. Bioengineering students at the University of California, Berkeley have developed the MicroJet. It uses an electronic actuator that could one day propel vaccinations, insulin or other drugs through the skin of the patient - without the device even touching the skin - with far less pain than a hypodermic needle."
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Needle Free Injections With Microjets

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  • by way2trivial ( 601132 ) on Sunday March 20, 2005 @01:10PM (#11991284) Homepage Journal
    here's one for sale
    http://diabetic-supplies.medical-supplies-equipmen p []

    Medi-Jector Vision(tm)Needle-Free Insulin Injection System
    Accurate delivery of insulin injections from 2-50 units in 1 unit increments. Injector reusable for 3000 injections. No maintenance or cleaning required. Smaller, lighter weight and easier to use than previous models. Contains: injector, carrying case, training video, instruction manual, 2 Needle-Free Syringes (for easy and medium skin penetration) and 1 vial adaptor. Replacement Needle-Free Syringe kits sold separately.

    what's amazing here?

    • I pointed that out above. Somebody who's used one pointed out that they're, just as painful [] as a needle. The one in the article claims to be painless.
    • back in the end of the 90s about using needle-less injectors to deliver microencapsulated drugs throught the skin. A team of us investigated the prospect, as injecting depot systems with needles causes lots of hold-up/loss in the vial and needle - and overfill is moreexpensive than normal. There was a ton of various injection technology back then, and it isn't like these people have stagnated innovation, especially as high-potency drugs are being investigated - so you need very small injection volumes. I
    • Tried it (Score:2, Informative)

      by kialara ( 145164 )
      As a diabetic, I've tried lots of new gadgets (helps to have a doctor that's rather technologically literate)... and the Medi-Jector was the first device aside from needles that I've tried.

      It's definitely NOT painless, but for around 5-10 units of insulin, it's rather "comfortable", but anything above that can be downright painful (more of a blunt pain than a sharp needle stick pain), and has also caused me welts. It's definitely not for injections where there's a lot of fat (stomach)... only for areas li
    • by mike5904 ( 831108 ) on Sunday March 20, 2005 @06:53PM (#11993458)
      From TFA:
      "The researchers modified a traditional syringe by taking out the needle and adding a tiny piezoelectric actuator that propels the liquid out of the tube. The actuator expands or contracts in response to an applied voltage. Because the MicroJet's source of power is electrical rather than mechanical, its range of control is continuous, allowing a far higher level of customization than the jet injectors used today."
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 20, 2005 @01:10PM (#11991286)
    And they've had "needle-less" injectors around for a long while, however the current ones are expensive and rather inaccurate at dosing when compared to needles.

    However, I must say I really don't care if they come out with a needle-less injector that works better. It's not the shots themselves that bother me, but rather the constant maintenance that people take for granted. I'd still need to do something. Right now I have a pump, and it's better than doing individual injections, but it's always with me. I'm waiting for the day when I no longer have to worry about this disease any longer because I've been cured.
    • by Andy Dodd ( 701 ) <{atd7} {at} {}> on Sunday March 20, 2005 @02:54PM (#11991952) Homepage
      Thanks to advances in needles, there are insulin injection methods even for those of us that don't pump that are basically painless.

      You probably already know this but many other /.ers don't, but modern insulin needles (at least name-brand ones, if your pharmacy tries to sub in generics you're screwed) are TINY. The Becton Dickinson Ultra-Fine II/III series have almost invisible needles that are short and VERY thin. I rarely ever feel them. (Occasionally I hit a nerve directly - ouch. But most of the time they're not felt at all.)

      Bloodsugar tests are a different story. My fingers are slightly callused from all the pinpricks - There are no real painless and definately no viable noninvasive bloodsugar monitoring techniques. Noninvasive bloodsugar monitoring is probably the second biggest Holy Grail in diabetes research (the biggest being an actual cure). The "alternative site testing" advertised by many modern meter manufacturers is highly overrated. If you read the manual of such meters you'll find that alternative site testing is inaccurate and gives a delayed reading and should not be used in many situations. (Of the 5-6 tests per day I run, only one is in conditions where AST is fine. And for that one test it's not worth changing lancet device heads.)

      The thing I want most as a diabetic right now though is not painless/easier insulin injections (my NovoPen Junior with B-D Ultra-Fine III needles is both painless and convenient), or noninvasive testing (fingersticks are annoying but I'm used to it), it's CHEAP diabetes supplies. Bloodsugar meter test strips run on the order of $0.50-$1 per test. Insulin prices are skyrocketing. You're basically screwed unless you have a high-end medical insurance plan, which is TOUGH when you're a grad student.

      But eventually, an actual cure would be damned nice.
      • TrueTrack meters and strips seem to be the cheapest, but I'm guessing you use them since you mention .50 test strips.

        I re-use my syringes (because I'm miserly, and don't like carrying around a whole lot of them).

        I had a Medi-Ject back in the day, and only used it for a few weeks. It caused a lot of bruising, which wasn't that big a deal, and also occasionally lost some of the dose against my skin, which was a big deal.

        AST testing tends to only lag in situations where your blood sugar is dropping fast (y
      • Check with your university, but as a student you may actually already be covered. At U Of Ottawa we had a medical plan which we could opt out of if we were already covered. This was ease the burden if you actually needed a prescription. It was about $50 a semester. Which when you don't use it seems like a lot, but if you do need it, ends up being cheaper than most medication.
    • While I empathize with your situation, you should not take this advance in medical science for granted. Not only does it have uses far beyond that of diabeties, but it also means less discomfort for people who need to take their insulin. Any improvement is a good improvement, even if it doesn't directly lead to the cure.

    • The new technology they seem to be promising does have advantages for diabetics. All the problems with the site at which the pump injects the insulin basically go away. No longer does it have to be moved every few days, and no longer will it leave you screwed when the site accidently gets ripped out or clogged and you can't fix it for a couple hours. Also, if the site ever does get "saturated" (where the insulin becomes decreasingly effective due to so much of it coming in at that one site), it's really eas
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 20, 2005 @01:10PM (#11991289)
    Hypospray, anyone?
  • Jetgun (Score:2, Interesting)

    by maotx ( 765127 )
    Sounds similar to the jetgun [] the military use to use. Does anyone know the difference?
    • Ideally, it won't make you want to chew your own arm off in a desperate attempt to end the pain. If they can solve that minor issue, this might be a good thing.
    • Re:Jetgun (Score:5, Interesting)

      by charyou-tree ( 774046 ) <charyou-tree AT nym DOT hush DOT com> on Sunday March 20, 2005 @01:29PM (#11991428)
      Sounds similar to the jetgun the military use to use. Does anyone know the difference?

      Well, they're promising "far less pain" with this device.

      Once upon a time, I had the misfortune to receive a yellow fever vaccination with one of the military's needleless injectors. It felt like some steroid-pumped baseball player had swung a bat at my shoulder. Nearly as bad as the pain was the gathering anticipation of the pain, as I watched the 200-odd people in line ahead of me get their shots.
      • Re:Jetgun (Score:2, Informative)

        by Achra ( 846023 )
        *shudder* and if you moved your arm when the "bat" hit your shoulder, the high velocity jet injection would slice your arm like a razor blade. I still have a scar from my first one. Needless to say, I didn't flinch on the next one down the gauntlet.
    • Wow, and I thought that thing Ed Harris and co used in The Rock to knock out the Marines at the weapons dept had come from the crazed mind of Michael Bay. Learn something every day...
  • by HomerNet ( 146137 ) <homernet&gmail,com> on Sunday March 20, 2005 @01:10PM (#11991295) Homepage
    So, will we get Tricorders with these?
  • by Emugamer ( 143719 ) * on Sunday March 20, 2005 @01:11PM (#11991298) Homepage Journal
    Someone got his blog pointed at slashdot, while I love the subject, its 4 days old, been on blogs for 3 days and a poor cut and paste job from the original Press release. s/2005/03/16_microjet.shtml []
    Read the press release, its better :)
  • The first? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ImTwoSlick ( 723185 ) on Sunday March 20, 2005 @01:11PM (#11991303)
    I have distinct memories of getting shots in basic training, where a needleless gun was used. How is this any different?

    And trust me.. It is not exactly pain-free.

    • Re:The first? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by BobSutan ( 467781 ) on Sunday March 20, 2005 @01:30PM (#11991436)
      I'm right there with you. I had about a half dozen "shots" with that thing in one day. Pain-free is not something we associated with it. And that's not counting the folks who were cut because either they or the tech's hand were moving when they did the injection. IIRC a couple of people ended up with stiches.
    • I'd take that over a needle any day. I didn't have any problem with that. The only people that did were people who moved. Don't tense up, and don't move. Simple, fast, almost painless.
      • Thank you. I had several shots from the military jet guns during my time in the Navy. After reading all comments about the pain, I have to say most of our military must be a bunch of wusses if they think a jet gun hurts.

    • Ditto... The system used high pressure air to inject into the body, but some injections still had to be injected through a needle.

      Also, the injecections were preceded by a warning (I don't know if it was true) that if you flinched and moved away from the "gun" that it could/would tear the skin and be very painful. I don't know anyone who had that happen... so I guess the warning worked.

      As far as the pain goes... yes they were painful, but did not carry the stigma and worry of the needle. They were also mu

      • Yep, same way. One of us moved during the (1st) shot, the med tech or me, and it sliced my arm an inch. Didn't particularly hurt, but it bled like a bitch for hours. Second round of shots went fine though!

    • Not pain-free, but not all that bad. Like getting snapped with a rubber band. Unless you move, of course.

      Wasn't nearly as bad as the penicillin shots we had to get when most of my flight came down with strep throat.
  • by Faust7 ( 314817 ) on Sunday March 20, 2005 @01:12PM (#11991310) Homepage
    While they have not yet started tests on humans, the researchers said the range of the injector is well beyond what would be needed to deliver drugs through human skin.

    So for God's sake, ask the nurse to check the settings before she pulls the trigger.
  • these have been around for insulin injections for years.. though not manufactored on a large scale.. here's a modern distributor [], and here's an article []about tests on pigs in sept of 2004 that went well.
  • So it's still going to hurt? (Yes I'm a wimp)
  • I remember getting vaccinated in the 1960's (yes, I'm that old) and they used some sort of air gun that shot the vaccination through the skin.

    That thing HURT!
  • Some time ago now (Score:2, Interesting)

    by n0dalus ( 807994 )
    I was reading an article a few years ago about how they are going to try reducing the surface area with nerves with syringes by putting tiny hair-like fibres along it, similar to a mosquito's proboscis (which can't be felt by most people).
    I have yet to see them use that idea, and if you ask me that sounded a lot more cost effective then this does.
  • by Rosco P. Coltrane ( 209368 ) on Sunday March 20, 2005 @01:15PM (#11991339)
    For some drugs, like those that should diffuse into the body slowly over time, transdermal diffusion devices already exist right now. A prime example of those is the nicotine patch, and I hear there are patches for diabetes too.

    As for lots of micro-needles vs. one big needle, it might not be all that new: I seem to recall getting some vaccine shot at school when I was a kid, where the nurse used some ring-looking plastic thing she put on her middle finger, with the business end of the device being a small, round "nail-bed" in her palm, and she slammed me on the shoulder with it, which probably accounts for the ugly mark I have there at that spot too :-)
    • They also have transdermal patches for many things including nitrolglycerine, scopalamine (seasickness), duragesic (mega painkiller)...

      And they have a patch for birth control drugs, the ad has scantily-clad women with these things placed somewhere below their navel.

      They could have saved a lot of money on this, just get a big band-aid and write "GET OFF ME" on it...

      The multi-prong thing you had might have been a Tuberculosis "tine" test.
    • That wasn't a nurse, it was an alien! Don't worry, your flashbacks will come soon enough.
    • I seem to recall getting some vaccine shot at school when I was a kid, where the nurse used some ring-looking plastic thing she put on her middle finger, with the business end of the device being a small, round "nail-bed" in her palm, and she slammed me on the shoulder with it, which probably accounts for the ugly mark I have there at that spot too

      You were probably born in the 1960's. That was how they used to give Polio vaccinations. I was born in the 1970's and from then on it has been oral.

    • Given your handle (you have to be in your late 20s to 30s to have watched that show the first time) and your report of a mark after an innoculation, I'd guess that you had a smallpox vaccination. They were designed to leave scars so a doctor could tell if someone were vaccinated or not. In the United States, compulsory vaccination ended in 1971 [] which is why I have a scar and my younger brother does not.

      Oh, that and something about ye shall know the followers of the beast by his mark, or something like that
  • by binarybum ( 468664 ) on Sunday March 20, 2005 @01:16PM (#11991344) Homepage
    hopefully someone will link or replace this article link - it's awful!

    "The researchers even joke that the MicroJet injector could be used to make getting tattoos much more bearable."

    heh heh heh.... wait.. that's not a funny joke at all.

    and the article fails to address the issue that this technology could become so painless that you do not even realize that you are receiving drugs. This becomes very scary.
    • this technology could become so painless that you do not even realize that you are receiving drugs. This becomes very scary.

      Yup. Wonder if it can be miniturized to the point where drug injections can be made merely by shaking hands or patting backs. Or - if larger - since it can be done without touching the skin - by simply holding a briefcase or purse near the person with the injector concealed in it.

      On the upside, this might quickly end the practice of politicians shaking hands. People of all sides wou
    • "The researchers even joke that the MicroJet injector could be used to make getting tattoos much more bearable."

      One of the most attractive aspects of getting a tattoo is that it hurts. It means that not everyone can stand to have it done and that if you have a big tattoo (as I do) that says a lot. I don't want some Blink 182/Lit/Linkin Park loving wuss (anyone else notice that all these bands are from affluent white neighbourhoods?) ruining that.

  • by Emugamer ( 143719 ) * on Sunday March 20, 2005 @01:18PM (#11991359) Homepage Journal
    a good page to take a look at is [] Its the CDC's index to the technology and hasa lot of useful information
  • I look forward to serving our micro-jet overlords...
  • by canwaf ( 240401 ) on Sunday March 20, 2005 @01:21PM (#11991376) Homepage Journal
    Jet injectors have been around since 1940. They were designed to inoculate in Africa, but they kept on jamming because of dust and sand. It was tossed aside for a 3 pronged fork-like needle which you just stabbed someone a couple of times, or scratched them to vaccinate them.
  • Heroin (Score:5, Funny)

    by yotto ( 590067 ) on Sunday March 20, 2005 @01:22PM (#11991388) Homepage
    Finally, the last barrier to my upcoming heroin addiction (Fear of needles) has been overcome!
  • This is probably news sprung up since over the begining of the month it was the '10th Annual International Conference on Needle-free and Auto Injectors'

    Major uses seem to be vaccination and insulin.
  • Its not the needle (Score:5, Informative)

    by dracken ( 453199 ) on Sunday March 20, 2005 @01:32PM (#11991446) Homepage
    Most people dont realize that the needle itself doesnt sting much. Its the medicine. Some medicines when they come into contact with the flesh inside, sting like crazy. Others dont.

    • No, for me, it's the needle. I have an INTENSE fear of needles.

      When I was younger, my mom got something (hepatitis maybe?), so they had to test the family. I was about 5 at the time. I go in and they attempt to draw blood from me. They couldn't find the vein. So what do they do? They keep trying. I ended up being pricked about 15 times in each arm, til my mom stopped it. Those fucking idiots scarred me for life by doing that and now I can't stand to be near needles. Whenever I need to have shots, I need to
      • Right... until the first time you encounter another idiot handling one of these things. In the hands of an unskilled operator, they don't just prick you, they SLICE YOU OPEN. I've seen it happen.
      • When my father was a kid, he needed to have drawn blood too. All went well until the doctor's phone rang. "Just hold it with your other hand and don't move". Then he went off to chat for 10 minutes... (!).

      • I need to take something beforehand, either laughing gas,
        vikadin or something along those lines.

        Dude, you need to stop getting your drugs from the street pharmacist. I like my vicodin to be vicodin.

  • by pg110404 ( 836120 ) on Sunday March 20, 2005 @01:39PM (#11991487)
    NURSE: doctor, you're hitting the bone
    DOCTOR: Oh so I am. It does make a lovely scraping sound though.
  • Cute nurse (Score:3, Funny)

    by karvind ( 833059 ) <karvind AT gmail DOT com> on Sunday March 20, 2005 @01:41PM (#11991505) Journal
    As long as they are not replacing the cute nurse ...
  • When I was a kid/teenager, I hated flu/booster shots. Og no like pain, pain bad, no pain.

    Then, at the age of 23, I found a lump. It was cancer. While I didn't need chemo, I did get a lot of CT scans requiring an IV with a radiopaque substance (6 in my first year post-surgery) and bloodwork (12 in that same year).

    After that, my GP strongly recommended I get a flu shot, as is suggested to anyone who's had cancer. I was a bit nervous (it had been years since I'd had one, partly because I was generally health
    • Flu shot needles used to be huge and hurt like hell.

      Starting 4-5 years after I became diabetic, most flu shots changed to much smaller needles similar to those used for insulin injections.

      Now you can't feel flu shots at all, just like I can't feel 95%+ of my insulin injections because the needle is so small.

      On the other hand, the flu shots tend to make your arm sore as hell starting an hour or so after the injection and continuing for a day or two.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 20, 2005 @01:45PM (#11991531)
    I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis four years ago (at the age of 22). Then, the best treatment available was Avonex, which is given intramuscularly once a week. The needle is about 26 gauge and 1 1/4" long. With that needle, the pain was mostly psychological. There is nothing natural about stabbing yourself with a long, sharp object.

    In fact, up until about a century ago, sharp objects piercing into your body has generally been a detrimental event. It meant that you were being bitten (with poison or germs getting injected past your outer layer defenses) or you were getting punctured by something that would result in an infection. So everything about your physical makeup and your psychology is evolved to consider injections to be a bad thing. In a twist of events, now it turns out that shard objects getting jabbed into your body is mostly a beneficial thing. But it will take a long time for evolution to change our aversion to injections. And with new technologies, it may not even be necessary for that adaptation to occur. I certainly hope this becomes the case in the *very* near future. :-)

    The nerves on the surface of your skin tend to cluster. So, the amount of pain related to the actual puncture of the skin varies greatly, depending on whether or not you happen to hit one of those nerve clusters. Sometimes the penetration of the skin would result in a strong pinching sensation; other times, I would not feel anything at all. For the intramuscular injections, it is also possible that you will hit another nerve on your way into the muscle tissue. That usually just results in a reflex reaction (you jump or twitch). The act of the actual injection is painless, since the solution is injected far below the surface pain receptors. But then you tend to get long-term dull pain similar to a charly horse; it's like a blunt end of a stick whacked you in the thigh and you have a nice bruise in your muscle. And $deity help you if you happen to hit your bone with the tip of the needle.

    About a year ago, I switched therapies to Rebif, which is given subcutaneously three times a week. The needle is a smaller gauge and is signifianctly shorter (~1.5cm). It is unintuitive, but the subcutaneous injections, even though the needle is shorter and thinner, are much more painful than the IM injections, because the solution is injected just below the surface of the skin, where you have a lot more pain receptors. So it's not the needle really that I worry about. I hardly even feel that any more; it's the stinging sensation from the liquid getting pushed into the subcutaneous tissue just below the skin.

    I use a spring-loaded injection contraption that hides the needle from my view entirely; I just hold the casing to my skin and push a button. The spring-loaded plunger pushes the needle in and presses the plunger of the syringe down to inject the medicine. I don't even worry about the needle any more; I worry about the sting with the liquid getting pushed under my skin and the subsequent itchy and burning red blotch that stays in that area for weeks afterward. So in my case, at least, the needle is a non-issue; this needle-less technology is neat, but it will not help with the pain associated with liquid getting pushed under my skin, and it will not help with the site reaction.

    Wake me up when they figure out how to effectively administrate interferon-beta with a pill.
  • Nearly all of the 23,487,892 injections I got while in the military (1996-2001) were done with a device fitting that description. How is this news?
  • Taking Blood (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ZeroExistenZ ( 721849 ) on Sunday March 20, 2005 @02:22PM (#11991757)

    I never minded a needle being popped in emptied and being subtracted. As mentioned here it seems a good thing to eliminate the need of needles for that. But as the "recipient" it doesn't make much of a difference it seems.

    Now, when they bypass the need sticking a needle in one's vein to tap off blood for analys I'll be cheering! That is just so uncomfortable.

  • I thought this technology has been around for quite a while? Isn't it really similiar to something that the military uses, and that they used to use in the 1940s-1950s? I know that both my mother and father and I think most kids of their generation (born 1945-1950), have permenant marks left by a vaccination in their arm, in which they didn't use a needle; they used a similiar method as the one described here to inject the vaccination.
  • How silly of me, thinking there was only a single past.

    So, if it's not a thing of another past, would that mean it's still a thing of the (a?) present?

  • by forevermore ( 582201 ) on Sunday March 20, 2005 @02:33PM (#11991832) Homepage
    Jet-based injections are nothing new. I know a number of people who got some sort of vaccination in the 70's this way, and it left a nasty 3/4" (or so) scar on your arm. Wasn't that bad the first time, but what about when you go back for your 3rd installment of Hep A/B shots, or that 10th annual flu shot?

    Unfortunately, I see nothing in the article that even mentions the issue of scarring, which imho should be a pretty big deal.

  • Now I've got to be frightened of air, too?

  • So advances in needleless injections are newsworthy? This in an era when tattoos and piercings have become commonplace? Even my pharmacist has facial piercings. Who's afraid of needles anymore?
  • by BobaFett ( 93158 ) on Sunday March 20, 2005 @04:39PM (#11992575) Homepage
    I remember when I was a kid growing up in the Soviet Union, we had yearly tuberculosis tests. Some years they were given not with a syringe but with a device about the size of hand-held bycicle pump: the nurse would "pump" it once, i.e. pull the top half and press it back into the bottom half, this armed some spring which was enough for several shots. The device was placed on the skin but it had no needle, it made a hiss and fired a jet of liquid into the skin. Did not penetrate very far, just under the skin. When I first saw it, it was way cool. But that was about 25 years ago.
  • ...doesn't the military already use this for their "line up and get shot in the arm" vaccinations and the like?

"Conversion, fastidious Goddess, loves blood better than brick, and feasts most subtly on the human will." -- Virginia Woolf, "Mrs. Dalloway"