Living on Earth's Jennifer Chu reports on a painless alternative to the hypodermic needle.
CURWOOD: Just ahead: New research that shows a close association with autism and the release of mercury from the smokestacks of power plants. First, this Note on Emerging Science from Jennifer Chu.
CHU: You've heard them in the doctor's waiting room. Children screaming in fear of hypodermic needles. But, soon kids may be able to get shots without a needle ever touching their skin. Researchers at UC Berkeley have developed a new way to administer shots. Their MicroJet injector can propel medication into the skin by using a small electrical charge. The MicroJet can adapt to differences in skin thickness. In addition the force of the injection can be altered with the electrical voltage to make the liquid penetrate skin between one to eight millimeters deep. The MicroJet is relatively painless as a result of its small size and because it doesn't penetrate the skin like a normal needle. Its nozzle is three times smaller than the thinnest hypodermic needle, making the amount of skin stretched by a jet of medication much smaller than that of a needle. Because the jet's size is so small, there is less of a chance that nerve receptors will be touched, meaning less of a chance for pain. It might also be injected into places where needles are considered too damaging, like for instance, the eye. The MicroJet may also be a boon for those with arthritis by providing a way for patients to inject pain medication into joints that are too shallow for hypodermic needles. That's this week's Note on Emerging Science. I'm Jennifer Chu.
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