Great news for anyone that is afraid of needles! There has been a new design for a painless microneedle patch that may eliminate the need for hypodermic needles. It may put to an end the need for annual flu shots.
More than this the microneedle system would make giving injections as simple as applying a plaster. This would allow patients to self administer their medication. This would be a great step in making healthcare cheaper and more accessible especially in countries with poor health infrastructures. It would eliminate the need for trained health professionals spending time to administer medicines with hypordermic needles. This would make treatment of many illnesses far easier i.e. diabetes sufferers that need insulin injections.
An immediate application foreseen for the microneedle would be a self applicable flu vaccine. This would mean people could go to a pharmacy and get their flu vaccine for the year without having to make doctors appointments. This would both free up the time of the medical practitioner and the patient. So far this flu vaccination by microneedle is still being tested in animal studies. The first human trial will hopefully be undertaken in 2010.
Another application for the microneedle injection system is the administration of drugs for macular degeneration. This is usually an unpleasant procedure as the drugs need to be directly injected into the eye. There are of course safety concerns about long-term injections into the eye, the microneedle injection system would foreseeably address these concerns. – CT