Sacred of needles? Many people are. It hurts because the needles are not fine enough, and up until now, it was impossible to make very fine ones. Scientist Hyung Il Jung from Yonsei University in Seoul Korea has recently filed a patent for the manufacture of an small array of microneedles designed to deliver drugs, be used for blood sampling and for biopsies.
The fine needles are made by first mixing the drug in a sticky material which is then thinly coated on a surface. Pointed objects are next used to touch this mixture and draw up fine needle shapes which are then cured. Once hardened, these fine needles are strong enough to penetrate the skin and yet not cause pain.
What is remarkable about this invention is the delivery material is completely biodegradable. Once injected, the needles will be left there to slowly dissolve away. If you consider of the costs of either sterilisation or the environmental penalty of throwing away one-time use disposable needles, this is a significant contribution. This invention could potentially take away the tears of small children who have to have repeated vaccinations in childhood and ease the discomfort of those who must endure repeated injections like diabetics who need daily doses of insulin.
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