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Mon May 28, 2012 6:8AM
Professor Ian Hunter shows a prototype of the new drug delivery device.

Professor Ian Hunter shows a prototype of the new drug delivery device.

Scientists have developed a new needle-less device which injects medications through the skin at the speed of sound without causing a notable pain. The high-speed jet injector, developed by researchers of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the US uses a small, powerful magnet and electric current to administer drugs. “We were able to fire the drug out at almost the speed of sound if we need to -- the speed of sound in air is about 340 meters per second,” said Professor Ian Hunter. “It's capable of pressurizing the drug up to 100 megapascales (MPas), and we can do that in under a millisecond.” The new technology can deliver different sorts of medications with less pain and more accuracy compared to syringes and hypodermic needles. The prototype injector’s nozzle is only about as wide as a mosquito’s proboscis which is far lower in the pain scale compared to needle injections. Another advantage of the new technology is that the velocity of the delivery of a drug can be adjusted by controlling the current applied to the actuator. “There's a magnet in the center of our jet injector that's surrounded by a coil of wire, and when we apply a current to the coil, we create a Lorentz Force that pushes this piston, which forces the drug out of the ampoule,” said Dr. Catherine Hogan. “This gives us a tremendous amount of control depending on how much current we put in, so that we can successfully deliver a wide variety of volumes of drug at a wide variety of velocities with a very low degree of error, something a needle can't do,” she added. The new device has also found to be successful in delivering drugs directly to the middle or inner ear and even can be used for injecting directly to very tiny tissues such as the retina, the light-sensitive tissue lining the inner surface of the eye. SJM/SJM
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