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Micro-jets for Painless Needle-free Injections

Novel needle-free injections that don't cause the pain and bruising common with existing needle-free devices have been developed// by a team in California.

In a bid to confront the under-use of current needle-free methods driven by the pain and discomfort experienced by patients, a team of researchers based at University of California has developed an alternative, painless, needle-free drug delivery system in collaboration with drug delivery company StratGent Life Sciences.

The new injectors promise to potentially deliver macromolecules such as vaccines and protein therapeutics painlessly without the use of a needle, thus increasing patient comfort and compliance, as well as removing the risk of needle-stick injuries to healthcare workers.

Guided by the hypothesis that the cause of the pain and bruising from standard needle-free liquid jet injectors was the result of deep penetration of the jets of the drug into the skin, the team developed a novel injector system that minimises the depth of penetration by using pulsed micro-jets at very high speeds and very small volumes.

"The device consists of a chamber that holds the drug solution," Dr Samir Mitragotri, lead author of the research paper on the new technique that was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, told In-PharmaTechnologist.com.

"The chamber is connected to a nozzle that has a final diameter of about 50-100 micrometers. The chamber is fitted with a piston, which is backed up by a piezoelectric crystal, and when a voltage pulse is applied to the crystal it moves forward and pushes the piston. This, in turn, pushes the drug in the form of a small jet which penetrates into the skin."

The pulsed micro-jets are expelled at over 100 metres per second at volumes of just 2-15 nanolitres per pulse. The number of pulses can be varied according to the required drug dose, and can be delivered in quick succession to mimi
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