Sunday, July 18, 2010

Disappearing needles

There's a fun set of articles in this month's Wired magazine about what happened to the future that we were dreaming of 30, 40 or 50 years ago. You can probably imagine it: where's my jetpack? where's my robot helper? and why isn't my food in pill form? It doesn't seem to be on the Wired website yet but I'm sure it will be.

However the thing about the future is that we generally try to imagine it in terms of today's technology. The real smart folks are the ones who take the latest cutting edge technology and think 'what could I use this for?'

The following press release from Georgia Tech on a paper out in Nature Medicine this week made me think of this.

Disappearing Needles: Vaccine-Delivery Patch with Dissolving Microneedles Eliminates “Sharps” Waste and Improves Protection

A new vaccine-delivery patch based on hundreds of microscopic needles that dissolve into the skin could allow persons without medical training to painlessly administer vaccines – while providing improved immunization against diseases such as influenza.

Patches containing micron-scale needles that carry vaccine with them as they dissolve into the skin could simplify immunization programs by eliminating the use of hypodermic needles – and their “sharps” disposal and re-use concerns. Applied easily to the skin, the microneedle patches could allow self-administration of vaccine during pandemics and simplify large-scale immunization programs in developing nations.

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