MIT invents painless, programmable hypospray

We've got phasers. We've got tricorders. And now, thanks to MIT, we've got a hypospray that works just like the real thing, delivering programmable doses of drugs painlessly right through your skin without any needles.

MIT has developed an injection system that uses a powerful magnetic piston to push a near-supersonic dose of medication straight through your skin into your body. The drugs themselves are carried along on a blast of air that's skinnier than the proboscis of a mosquito, which means that you can't feel it at all. In fact, it doesn't even leave a mark, which means that it can be used on your eardrums or even your eyeballs without causing any damage.


Here's the biggest difference between MIT's hypospray and other jet-injection systems that already exist. Remember how in Star Trek there are scenes when a screaming redshirt gets dragged into sickbay because some sort of crazy alien just laid a bunch of eggs in his chest or whatever, and he's writhing around on a biobed and the doctor comes over and uses a hypospray on him but it doesn't seem to help, so the doctor looks all worried and then pushes some buttons on the hypo and tries again and it works and the redshirt passes out and everything's fine?* That is what MIT's hypospray can do: it's programmable.

By altering the intensity and duration of the injection pulse, the MIT hypo can deliver drugs in different dosages to different layers underneath the skin, allowing doctors to tune injections to give patients exactly what they need. This also means that doctors can use different injection strengths for infants and adults. And there are lots of other tricks that MIT's hardware can perform too, like injecting powdered drugs as if they were a liquid. The reason that this in particular is a big deal is because it's much easier to transport and store powder than it is liquid (which usually has to be cooled and will otherwise spoil), potentially making medication cheaper and more accessible for everyone.

MIT isn't saying when their hypospray might show up in your doctor's office, but at least they've got a slick-looking prototype that actually works, and you can see it in the flesh in the video below.

MIT Bioinstrumentation Lab, via MIT News

*But later the redshirt dies anyway, 'cause that's what they do.

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