If you have always hated needles, here’s some good news. It’s now possible to skip needles altogether when it comes to vaccines. That’s thanks to a new development by a former student at the University of California Berkeley.
Kiana Aran was a postdoctoral scholar at Berkeley under mechanical and bioengineering professor Dorian Liepman when she developed the technology. Today, she is an assistant professor at the Keck Graduate Institute of Claremont University.
Aran’s tecnology is known as MucoJet. As small as your average spill, this technology jet releases the vaccine in the mouth, proving no need to use needles. MucoJet is a cylindrical device that measures 15-by-7 millimeters and comes with two compartments. A 3-D printer produced its solid components using cheap plastic resin that is both water-resistant and bio-compatible.
MucoJet’s exterior compartment holds 250 milliliters of water. Meanwhile, its interior compartment is made up of two reservoirs. There’s the vaccine reservoir, which has a 100-ml chamber of vaccine solution. It is designed with a movable piston in the end along with a nozzle. On other hand, there is also the propellant reservoir, which contains a dry chemical propellant made of citric acid and sodium bicarbonate.
The vaccine is released via jet stream into the mouth.
The moment a patient holds the MucoJet against the inside of his or her cheek, the device would release a jet stream of vaccine, immediately targeting the buccal region. MucoJet is seen as a game changer since the mouth’s buccal region of cells is typically susceptible to infections. In fact, this is exactly the spot where infections tend to enter the body. Until now, the thick mucosal layer in this part of the oral cavity has been hard to penetrate. Oral spray, used in influenza vaccination, has had no success.
In order to administer the MucoJet, a patient only needs to click together the interior and exterior compartments. The membrane would then dissolve. Water comes into contact with the chemical propellant, creating carbon dioxide gas. The gas would then increase the pressure in the propellant chamber, causing the piston to move. It eventually causes the ejection of the vaccine as it gets delivered with the help of the nozzle.
“The jet is similar in pressure to a water pick that dentists use,” Aran said. Indeed, it’s a breakthrough for anyone afraid of needles.