For many people, the needle is only a source of fear. Needle phobia affects at least one in 10 people.
But needle phobia may soon be a thing of the past!
A team at the University of Texas at Dallas has come up with an alternative to traditional injections. They have developed a type of painless injection — biodegradable micro-needles that deliver drugs through a simple patch applied to the skin.
Traditional transdermal injections can be painful and often leave ugly marks if not skillfully done. There is a risk of infection and they also produce bio-hazardous waste. But with this new method, a drug can be injected into the body without the patient feeling a thing — it is a truly painless injection.
The needles are so thin that they break off in the skin and dissolve to administer drugs
The patch applied to the skin consists of arrays of ultra-thin needles coated with a drug. Micro-needle arrays are made using a 3D printing technique known as “fused deposition modeling,” and polylactic acid, a renewable, biodegradable, thermoplastic material that’s been approved for use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
These microneedles have tips as small as one micrometer or one-millionth of a meter, and different needle shapes with a width of 400 to 600 micrometers with tip sizes between one and 55 micrometers. In comparison, a human red blood cell is about five micrometers wide.
These microneedles need to be tested thoroughly before they are made available to the public. So, it might be a little while before you can honestly tell your kids that the needle won’t hurt.