Researchers in the Netherlands are developing laser technology to enable “virtually painless” injections without needles in what they call a breakthrough that will ease fear and lower the threshold for vaccinations.
The “Bubble Gun” uses a laser to push tiny droplets through the outer layer of the skin, said David Fernandez Rivas, a professor at Twente University and research affiliate at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who founded the idea.
The process is quicker than a mosquito bite and “should not cause pain” because nerve endings in the skin are not touched, he said, adding this would be studied further.
“Within a millisecond, the glass that contains the liquid is heated by a laser, a bubble is created in the liquid, pushing the liquid out at a velocity of at least 100 km per hour (60 mph),” he said during an interview at his lab.
“That allows us to penetrate the skin without damage. We don’t see any wound or entry point.”
Rivas expects the invention will not only help more people get vaccinated, but will also prevent the risk of contamination by dirty needles and reduce medical waste.
Testing on tissue samples has successfully been carried out with a 1.5-million-euro ($1.73 million) European Union grant. An application for funding to begin human testing with volunteers is expected to be submitted this month, Rivas said.
A new start-up company will collaborate with the pharmaceutical industry to test and market the “Bubble Gun” technology, he said.