Newly developed smart needle to safely deliver drugs in sensitive areas


A team of researchers has developed a “smart” needle that can deliver drugs more safely. Some sensitive parts of the human body could be targeted, such as the eye. The details of the study are published in Nature Biomedical Engineering.

Needles have been used to administer drugs for a very long time. However, even today, it is still sometimes difficult to administer medications in certain areas that are too sensitive using needles. For example, the suprachoroidal space, situated at the back of the eye. The maneuver is indeed complicated. To safely administer the drug agent, the needle must pierce the sclera – less than a millimeter thick – and stop early enough to not penetrate the retina. The success of the injection often depends on the skills of the operator (the one who injects). To facilitate the process, a team from Brigham and Women’s Hospital has developed a “smart” needle.

“Targeting specific tissues using a conventional needle can be difficult and often requires a highly skilled person,” says Jeff Karp, lead author of the study. Over the past century, the needles themselves have had few innovations and we see an opportunity to develop better and more accurate devices. We have sought to improve the targeting of fabrics while keeping the design as simple as possible to make it easier to use. ”

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The newly developed needle is equipped with a sensitive sensor. This allows it to feel the pressure changes applied when its end passes through different types of biological tissue. After being initially “trained” on a highly fragile organ such as the eye, this sensor is then able to determine exactly where the needle should stop to deliver the drug. And do not damage the retina in passing.

A resistance-sensing needle would allow drugs to be administered more safely and effectively.

The various laboratory tests, performed on animal model tissues, have shown that this new device accurately distributes the medicine in the targeted areas, and in complete safety. Another advantage: this new process does not imply any additional training on the part of the administrator.

Note that – aside from the eyes – other sensitive areas could potentially be targeted by these new needles. The epidural space, around the spinal cord, for example, or the peritoneal cavity of the abdomen and the subcutaneous tissue, located between the skin and the muscles could be concerned, note the researchers.

Next step: demonstrate the viability of this new technology in pre-clinical trials. If successful, first tests could then be programmed in humans.

Shakes Gilles

Editor of The Talking Democrat. He enjoys bike riding, kayaking and playing soccer. On a slow weekend, you'll find him with a book by the lake.