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Medicine Technology

Vaccine Patch Removes Needle Pain 250

wog777 writes "Researchers led by Mark Prausnitz of Georgia Institute of Technology reported their research on microneedles in Sunday's edition of Nature Medicine. A microneedle contains needles so small you don't even feel them. Attached to a patch like a Band-Aid, the little needles barely penetrate the skin before they dissolve and release their vaccine."
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Vaccine Patch Removes Needle Pain

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  • by Chazerizer ( 934553 ) on Sunday July 18, 2010 @10:47PM (#32946928)
    No. Blood must be drawn directly from the venous system (or arterial system, depending on the goal). At that depth, there aren't even that many capillaries.
  • Hmmmm (Score:2, Informative)

    by AndrewBC ( 1675992 ) on Sunday July 18, 2010 @10:49PM (#32946942) Homepage

    I remember seeing an article about this idea in a popular science magazine years and years ago. Glad to see it's still around for those who hate needles.

  • by Dunbal ( 464142 ) * on Sunday July 18, 2010 @10:54PM (#32946966)

    Your average red blood cell is around 10 micrometers thick. White blood cells are even bigger. This would probably make the "needles" big enough to hurt like hell - so no, it would defeat the purpose. Besides, kids are the only ones who cry when getting a blood sample taken. But they'll cry when they see a stranger coming up to them in a white lab coat anyway, needle or not.

  • Re:Hypospray. (Score:5, Informative)

    by compro01 ( 777531 ) on Sunday July 18, 2010 @11:00PM (#32946986)

    We already have hyposprays. They're called jet injectors. They actually predate star trek (they were invented in 1960) and have been used for decades for vaccinations, particularly polio vaccinations in Africa. A diabetic friend of mine also uses one for his insulin.

  • by iCEBaLM ( 34905 ) <icebalm&icebalm,com> on Sunday July 18, 2010 @11:05PM (#32947024)

    I can assure you sir, that it is not just kids who cry at the thought of needles piercing their skin. As one with such a phobia I hope this technology makes it into practice ASAP.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 18, 2010 @11:09PM (#32947044)

    odd how this story about good ole american know-how resembles this press release from an australian university from April?

  • Re:Genius (Score:5, Informative)

    by Dunbal ( 464142 ) * on Sunday July 18, 2010 @11:34PM (#32947170)

    What's the point of a single-use patch?

          You have obviously never had to approach a screaming 2 year old with a needle in your hand. Besides the red face, the 120 decibels, and the snot everywhere, there's that look on the parents' faces that says "you only get one go".

          No but seriously, there are all sorts of applications outside of pediatrics. For example palliative care - terminal patients who need regular medication can just use a patch instead of trying to find someone to inject them every 6 hours or so (ever tried injecting yourself? It can be done but it's not fun - especially when you're weak and/or dying and you can't really remember if you just did it or not). Senior citizens. Diabetics. The sky is the limit. This is something new, and the full implications of this technology haven't been explored yet.

  • by jnnnnn ( 1079877 ) on Sunday July 18, 2010 @11:34PM (#32947172)

    The needles are conical, about 200m diameter by 650m long, with 10m radius of curvature at the tip. They are made from a biocompatible polymer, polyvinylpyrrolidone, and mostly dissolve after about five minutes (they are highly water-soluble). The manufacturing process can be done at 23C (using a mold), avoiding damage to sensitive biological molecules. Each patch held 3 g of vaccine.

    For comparison purposes, human hair ranges in diameter from 20-200m.

    Here's the article [], with some low-res pictures even for non-subscribers.

  • Re:Hypospray. (Score:5, Informative)

    by fuzzyfuzzyfungus ( 1223518 ) on Sunday July 18, 2010 @11:41PM (#32947204) Journal
    My understanding is that(at least in tropical medicine and military applications) the point isn't really that they are less painful than needles(and, even if they are, having some guy hold a big nasty-looking device up to your arm and make a pneumatic wh-thunk sound isn't calculated to give kiddo sweet dreams) its that they are much faster and more efficient and cheap.

    Because there is no needle(which is either an expensive FRU or a temptation to ill-equipped medical staff in the ass-end of nowhere to wash out and re-use until it is blunt), you can skip all the fancy western hospital one-time-use assemblies that would be impractical in the field; but avoid the cross-contamination that occurs if you share needles. Depending on the design, there might be a simple pneumatic tip that gets replaced each use; but it makes lining up an entire village somewhere and pumping them full of vaccine much more logistically feasible.
  • by Dunbal ( 464142 ) * on Sunday July 18, 2010 @11:44PM (#32947228)

    Well if needles are a problem and you just need routine blood work, you could probably negotiate capillary puncture [] with your doctor, instead of a needle. That's done with a lancet - like a mini knife - that cuts you with a spring mechanism. It happens so fast you really don't feel any pain at all. It's usually used on small children but there's no reason why it won't work on an adult. No needles involved.

    For injections, however, you're out of luck - sorry!

  • by Chaos Incarnate ( 772793 ) on Monday July 19, 2010 @01:07AM (#32947500) Homepage
    Jet injector [], aka a hypospray.
  • by Wyatt Earp ( 1029 ) on Monday July 19, 2010 @01:38AM (#32947600)

    People who suffer from vasovagal trypanophobia fear the sight, thought, or feeling of needles or needle-like objects. The primary symptom of vasovagal trypanophobia is vasovagal syncope, or fainting due to a decrease of blood pressure.

  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus ( 1223518 ) on Monday July 19, 2010 @01:40AM (#32947610) Journal
    Unless the blood work being done specifically precludes it for some reason, a doctor might also be open to prescribing a short-acting anxiolytic for the procedure. One of the faster benzodiazapenes, or the like.

    Not a perfect solution; but they use those against anxiety and panic disorders for a reason...
  • by lxs ( 131946 ) on Monday July 19, 2010 @02:50AM (#32947914)

    "capable of synthesizing endogenous THC?"

    Evolution is way ahead of you: endocannabinoids []

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 19, 2010 @03:50AM (#32948138)

    No, YOU'RE the IDIOT.

    In fact, you're part of the problem.

    via wikipedia: "Although most phobias are dangerous to some degree, trypanophobia is one of the few that actually kills. In cases of severe trypanophobia, the drop in blood pressure caused by the vasovagal shock reflex may cause death. In Dr. Hamilton's 1995 review article on needle phobia, he was able to document 23 deaths as a direct result of vasovagal shock during a needle procedure"

    Attitudes like yours get people killed... idiot!

  • by vlm ( 69642 ) on Monday July 19, 2010 @07:23AM (#32948942)

    Jet Injector []

    Interestingly enough most people insist that it's based off the star trek hypospray machine, yet its actually the reverse, the hypospray is based off the jet injector.

    It's been half a century and they're still not popular. Mainly because of cleaning issues, you still have cleaning/sterilization tasks but instead of cheap mass produced hypos you have a complicated machine. But secondarily, yes indeed they do hurt like unholy hell for a couple days. I got several vaccinations from jet injectors at reception station immediately before army basic training in the early 90s. "Tough Army Dudes" will put up with the pain but I can see how children would not tolerate it.

    Also, from experience, its pretty brutal and a couple drops of "stuff" leaks back out the entrance hole. Admittedly its not a .45 caliber entrance wound here, its like the hole from a lancet. But I wonder what percentage injected leaks back out again.

  • Re:Genius (Score:4, Informative)

    by Dunbal ( 464142 ) * on Monday July 19, 2010 @08:26AM (#32949348)

    Thats an oversimplification

          Well yes, this is a slashdot post and not a doctoral thesis.

The road to ruin is always in good repair, and the travellers pay the expense of it. -- Josh Billings