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Gold and Helium Combine for Needle-Free Injections 74

Posted by timothy
from the not-necessarily-pain-free dept.
Mr. Jaggers writes "U.K. biotech outfit, PowderMed Ltd., has developed a new method to deliver vaccine using an injector powered by concentrated helium gas. They enclose fragments of virus DNA in tiny gold particles, and use the injector to introduce particles into the body subdermally. Evidently, this has been in the works for some time, but is now ready for human clinical tests. Oh, and this is supposed to be used experimentally to target the H5N1 avian flu, which is also cool, I suppose."
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Gold and Helium Combine for Needle-Free Injections

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  • OOooOOOOoo (Score:3, Funny)

    by DarkNemesis618 (908703) on Monday July 10, 2006 @09:53PM (#15695336) Homepage
    The hypospray, quickly doctor!

    Reminiscent of Star Trek?
    • Reminiscent of Star Trek?

      Or the draft.
      • Or the draft.

        I wasn't drafted, but I had to get the innoculations with the "air guns" while going down an assembly line when I went into the service. For my boney arms (at the time), it hurt only as much as a needle would have, but one of the people administering the shot didn't maintain skin contact for the full duration of the injection. The result was a large enough "hole" in my arm that bled heavily for a few minutes.

        Of course, who do you think the sergeants blamed for that happening?
    • I seem to remember in one of the specials on Star Trek that it was said that at some point in time the Military was toying with the idea of hyposprays popularized by Star Trek because of the easy way of delivering injections.
      • Re:OOooOOOOoo (Score:2, Informative)

        by Shambhu (198415)
        Jet injectors [wikipedia.org] are fairly commonplace. My dad said they used them on new recruits in Basic, back in the day. He said it was a big thing that you had to lean in to and had a strong kick. Military issue. What's special here is the virus itself, I guess. Maybe use gold particles to carry it and using helium to power it is also new. I don't know.

        • Maybe use gold particles to carry it and using helium to power it is also new. I don't know.

          Much better than mercury, no?
  • by Lord Kano (13027) on Monday July 10, 2006 @09:54PM (#15695340) Homepage Journal
    Should we test this on vaccines that we know the side effect for?

    I mean, we know what the side effects of the polio vaccination are so maybe that's a better trial for this. It would be truly awful if we created a SuperFlu by playing around with this.

    LK
    • I mean "too" instead of "to".

      LK
    • by eln (21727)
      As others have mentioned, this is not particularly new tech. I'd imagine linking it to the avian flu is just a way to get more exposure, and therefore more grant money, by exploiting the health scare of the moment.
    • I don't really see an incredible amount of relation between the two. The technology described is merely a new medium for, in this case, vaccination, not something liable to cause mutational effects in the vaccine itself. Yes, in general, it would seem to be standard procedure to test one and only one new thing at a time, but I believe that, as already mentioned, the link is made purely to boost awareness and interest.
  • More practitioners (Score:4, Insightful)

    by andrewman327 (635952) on Monday July 10, 2006 @09:56PM (#15695355) Homepage Journal
    I am an EMT but I am not allowed to perform IVs in the field. Only paramedics are allowed to do that (more training). I am licensed to perform intramuscular injections, however (think EpiPen) and I would be allowed to use one of these. The point? If there were ever a need for rapid vacinations, more people would be able to administer using this technology.
    • by anoopsinha (685380)
      I do not think there are any vaccines that are given intra-venously, anyway. Most vaccines that I know know of are given by the intra-muscular route, and some by the sub-cutaneous and intra-dermal route. So administering any vaccine should well be within your field of expertise as an EMT.
    • by Kadin2048 (468275) <slashdot DOT kadin AT xoxy DOT net> on Tuesday July 11, 2006 @12:50AM (#15695967) Homepage Journal
      I don't really think this is going to change anything. The injections that this is replacing are mostly intra-muscular, so (assuming they're in your protocols) you could do them right now.

      The reason Paramedics drop lines is less to introduce drugs but to add fluid volume, saline or blood. You can't do that intramuscularly, or without a needle. Once you have the line inserted as a way of adding volume, it's an easy way to give drugs (and there are admittedly drugs that are intended for intravascular use instead of IM), but a needle-less IM system wouldn't replace most IV insertions.

      Unless you could find some way to continuously pump fluids into a vein without a catheter in place to keep it open, but I don't think anyone has proposed a needleless sytem that does that.
  • by megaditto (982598) on Monday July 10, 2006 @10:07PM (#15695408)
    This 'new method' is some 20+ years old.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gene_gun [wikipedia.org]

    I'd tell the submitter where to shove such 'new methods', but it appears that has already been done:

    Chen et al. Immunity obtained by gene-gun inoculation of a rotavirus DNA vaccine to the abdominal epidermis or anorectal epithelium.Vaccine. 1999 Aug 6;17(23-24):3171-6
    • Letter to researchers: I like my anorectal epithelium as it is, thank you very much. If you have a helium-propelled gold flake viral DNA vaccine, keep it to yourself, and leave my virginal epithelium alone. Signed, Major Chas Crumley, Retired, and nothing to do but write letters and post on Slashdot. Oh, it makes me mad. Mad, I tell you, mad. Mongo, do not kill the customers! And do not touch their anorectal epithelia!
  • That means the genetic material of this virus is RNA, not DNA. So what DNA exactly are they using in this vaccine? I did RTFM, but it does not answer this question.

    But maybe, they are using DNA that corresponds to the viral RNA.

    • by megaditto (982598) on Monday July 10, 2006 @10:18PM (#15695451)
      Need to use DNA because RNA is unstable. RNA and DNA are interconvertible, but the naked RNA molecule will be chopped up and eaten by the cell. Even if it didn't, it would also need (at least) a reverse transcriptase, (an RNA-dependant DNA polymerase enzyme) to go from RNA->DNA before the cell can start making viral proteins.

      Since RNA has absolutely no chance for to survive or integrate without the viral enzymes, so gene-guns have to use DNA.
      • RNA and DNA are interconvertible, but the naked RNA molecule will be chopped up and eaten by the cell. Even if it didn't, it would also need (at least) a reverse transcriptase, (an RNA-dependant DNA polymerase enzyme)
        You... gah... WHAT? WHAT THE HELL? I need that animated cowboy from Jurassic Park back here, STAT!
      • Since RNA has absolutely no chance for to survive

        RNA has no chance to survive....take off every telomere for great justice...

        (sorry, I just had to say it)
  • by allaunjsilverfox2 (882195) on Monday July 10, 2006 @10:10PM (#15695420) Homepage Journal
    If not couldn't it be used for diabetics? Or others that need constanst injections?
    • I doubt it would be more painful then the a shot and most diabetics would welcome it if it left no permanet scars like needles can.

      Hell I'd even pay a few extra bucks for this method even if it was more painful. Pain I can stand, the idea of something foreign and large entering my body is another story.
    • by r00t (33219) on Monday July 10, 2006 @10:28PM (#15695495) Journal
      These guys have added "gold" and "helium" to make things sound cool, but the tech is old.

      It hurts like Hell. It leaves a blister or welt, if you are lucky.

      Don't flinch. If you move, the device cuts a slot. You need stiches. Then they try again. Remember, don't flinch.

      Such devices are being eliminated. Back splatter (tiny droplets of blood) creates a risk of disease transmission. It's also not nice how the device tends to drive skin bacteria into you, more so than a needle would.

    • I've heard that the EpiPen is sort of like getting snapped by a rubber band. It's a matter of individual preference. Some people swear by it while others swear AT it.
    • Since you asked...

      Injector pens like this have existed for over 15 years. I currently use a MediJector Vision. Once you've purchased the injector pen, there is an additional cost for the adaptors to go on the insulin vials. You end up using about 10% less insulin per shot. I had one of the first ones produced back in 1990 and haven't had to do a needle injection since then. It feels like a quick pinch.

      My shots aren't coated in gold, though.

      Google just gives me shopping links, but you can find more deta
  • I remember reading about something like this in Popular Science back in late '05.

    Can anyone tell me how close this is to the Hypo-sprays (sp?) from the Star Trek world? Do you still have to place is strategically, or is it a general point-and-click interface?

    First comm badges. Then hypo-sprays. Warp speed, here we come!
  • Old Trick (Score:2, Informative)

    This is just a new spin on an old trick. Geneticists have been using tiny gold pellets coated in DNA in so-called "gene guns [wikipedia.org]" for a long time. They're mainly used to transform plant cells, as these cells have tough cell walls.

    Using them on the human cells is a logical step, but applicability is going to be rather narrow.
  • Ok... I don't really care about that... how long before it replaces hypodermic needles and I get to take advantage of this new tech?
  • How do they avoid getting air bubbles into the patient's bloodstream?
    • Re:Air bubbles? (Score:3, Informative)

      by bobscealy (830639)
      Air bubbles in the blood stream arent that much of a big deal, you need to have quite a bit before it is a problem. I had 4 months of chemotherapy a year back and when they are changing lines etc I was shocked at the amount of air that went in, the nurse said lots of people freak out. The wierd thing is you can feel the air going in, which is a bit spooky.
    • Re:Air bubbles? (Score:3, Informative)

      by A Commentor (459578)
      How do they avoid getting air bubbles into the patient's bloodstream?


      Because it's no where near the blood stream. This one is subdermal (just under the skin) not into a vein. For the vein, it would be an IV.


  •   It seems like decades ago when the first needle-free injecting systems
      were announced. Didn't they work out?

      What're the great new advantages here, not for gold producers but for
      patients and/or medical establishments who fund the injections?
  • If they could use this method to inject silicone for cosmetic augmentation purposes, would that mean...

    ... Thar's gold in them there hills?

  • Sounds like a good vaccination to prevent humans from being Cybernised (converted into Cybermen!) since they are susceptible to Gold!
  • It was in 1997 [newscientist.com].
  • The KGB had an injector that used precious metals and compressed gas to deliver its payload long long ago [wikipedia.org].
  • Research materials supplier Bio-Rad has had a "Gene Gun" using this method for eons. While not intended for clinical use like the sleek PowderJect device, at least it looks SciFi-ish cool (see http://www.biorad.com/images/gene_gun1.jpg [biorad.com]).

    As has been pointed out by many others here already, the PowderJect device is hardly new as well.

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