MIT develops new jet injection system for drug delivery

Needles are no fun. We can all agree on that. I don't think anyone goes to the doctor hoping to get a shot. Many people with needle anxiety put off going to the doctor as long as possible simply out of fear of needles. The smart folks at MIT have engineered a new device that can deliver medications without using a needle by creating a high-pressure jet of medicine.

The jet injection device can squirt the medication directly through the skin into the body without needing to puncture with a needle. The device MIT researchers have developed can be programmed to deliver a range of medication doses at various depths. That is a significant improvement over jet injection systems that are available right now. Different medications have to be delivered at different depths within the body to function. For instance, some medications need to go in the muscle whereas others need to be deposited in the fatty tissue rather than muscle. The sort of needleless injection system is a big deal for medical workers as well.

By removing the needle from the equation, medical workers are much less likely to accidentally poke themselves with a dirty needle. Having no needle is also a big help for people that have to routinely deliver medications to themselves in the home, such as diabetics. The jet injector developed at MIT is built around a mechanism called a Lorentz-force actuator. The device is small, but powerful magnet surrounded by a coil of wire with a piston attached inside the drug ampoule. The medication is injected by this device out of the needleless injector at high-pressure and very near the speed of sound in air. The opening in the end of the jet injector is about as wide as the mosquitoe's proboscis. The researchers are developing a version of the device for delivering drugs found in a powdered form. In this instance, the device vibrates turning the powder into a fluidized form that can be delivered through the skin like a liquid.