As a pediatrician who wants to improve the patient experience for my young patients, I have been waiting forever for needle free injections, but I don’t see this happening anytime soon (these do exist but have very limited indications). I was thrilled when the oral rotavirus and nasal flu vaccine were introduced years ago, but most vaccines are not needle free and continue to be a painful experience for my patients. We also traumatize patients when we screen children at a year of age for lead and hemoglobin tests via finger-stick. This procedure is uncomfortable and almost always accompanied by crying (sometimes on the part of parents as well).
There is a start-up company called SeventhSense Biosystems based in Medford Massachusetts, that recently gained FDA approval to market their novel blood collection system for use in adults. As shown in the video the system consists of a cartridge that is placed on the upper arm. When actuated – 30 microneedles that are 350 microns in width and 1 mm long puncture the skin. Within minutes the device collects 100 microliters of blood that is anti-coagulated with lithium heparin. One uses a pipette to extract the sample which is then placed in a microtube and mixed before testing. The only FDA approved indication presently is for hemoglobin A1c testing.
The device is pain free! This is quite an achievement and is likely a function of the location (fewer nerve endings compared to the fingertip), and the small size and depth of penetration of the microneedles.
I’m told that the company is working on collection cartridges that use EDTA as an anticoagulant and cartridges that can collect 250 microliters of blood. Hopefully as the product evolves it will gain FDA approval for use in pediatric patients and for other indications such as CBC devices, glucose, lead etc.