For the needle adverse, there is good news. Researchers may have found a way to inject medications and vaccines without the ouch.
A new laser-based system can blast microscopic jets of drugs into the skin. It’s the same type of laser used by dermatologists on facial treatments, called an erbium-doped yttrium aluminum garnet, or Er:YAG, laser.
The device was developed by Jack Yoh, professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at Seoul National University in South Korea, and his graduate students. The injector is described in the Optical Society’s journal Optics Letters.
The laser is attached to an adaptor containing the liquid drug. A membrane separates it from another chamber filled with water. Laser pulses lasting 250 millionth of a second generate a vapor bubble in the water, and the pressure of the bubble forces the drug to be ejected through a nozzle the size of a human hair.
“The impacting jet pressure is higher than the skin tensile strength and thus causes the jet to smoothly penetrate into the targeted depth underneath the skin, without any splashback of the drug,” Yoh said in a statement.
Tests on guinea pigs showed the jet can penetrate several millimeters under the skin without harming the tissue and with little or no pain. If they can ensure it only penetrates the layer close to the skin surface there would be no pain.
The researchers said this method is superior to past attempts by others to create injectors because it’s got better jet strength and drug dosage control. No word on when it may be available for humans.