We think of needles as a necessity. How else would you get medicine directly into your bloodstream? A number of alternatives are currently undergoing research and a needle-free injection will be available very soon. One such device is called PRIME and has gone through years of research at MIT, and has finally come out of the development phase into the commercialization phase and should be available in the market soon enough.
The needle-free injection was so successful that it gave rise to a company called Portal Instruments in 2012. The company has now reached a deal with Japanese pharmaceutical company Takeda to further develop PRIME to bring it to the market.
PRIME eliminates the need to jam a sharp metal tube in your skin and painlessly delivers the drug in the form of a high-pressure stream of liquid directly into the bloodstream. There are single-use vessels, that can be loaded up with a range of drugs from biological sources to deliver hormone treatments, insulin, and vaccines.
The device works as a linear electromagnetic actuator, squeezes the vessel which pressurizes the drug and forces it out through a tiny nozzle placed against the skin. The drug exits the device at a speed of 200m/s and the jet is no thicker than a strand of hair. This penetrates the skin and tissue and delivers a 1 ml dose in half a second, beating the alternative of keeping a hypodermic needle under the skin for half a minute.
What makes PRIME different from other similar products in the works is the fact that an inbuilt control system monitors the trajectory of the stream constantly and automatically adjusts the actuator in real time. This can lead to changing the velocity of the jet as much as 1,000 times within half a second to make sure that the drug is delivered to the desired skin depth and location.
This will be a huge benefit for people who need to take shots regularly, like those suffering from diabetes. They are sometimes annoyed by the constant unpleasant feeling of sticking needles in their skin. This needle-free injection will make it easier for them to stick to their routine.
The device will definitely revolutionalize the way shots are administered, once it makes its way to the market.