Star Trek Syringe

By Jessica Gorman|Saturday, July 01, 2000

The doctors keep saying it won't hurt a bit, and it keeps hurting. There's got to be a better way to get drugs into the body than a brutal needle and syringe. Chemist Terry Burkoth and his collaborators at PowderJect Pharmaceuticals in Oxford, England, agree. They have replaced the needle with a flashlight-size tube that uses a jet of helium to accelerate powdered drugs to supersonic speeds. Just press it against the skin, and the PowderJect system shoots a dose directly into the underlying cells. The drug particles are so small that the patient hardly feels a thing. And the supersonic shot could make it easier for doctors to deliver precise dosages of drugs to hard-to-reach regions just below the skin's upper layer.

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