Tag Archives: IV access

Microneedle-Covered Capsule

Promising Microneedle-Covered Capsule to Supersede Injections?

A swallowable microneedle-covered capsule—approximately 2 centimeters long and 1 centimeter in diameter—was devised by Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) researchers, working with Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), as a way to deliver medications orally and perhaps replace injections in the future.

The prototype pill is made of acrylic—serving as a medication reservoir—and encased with tiny hollow stainless steel needles (5 millimeters in length) that are designed to “inject” drugs directly into the stomach lining. Large medications, usually consisting of proteins, are not readily absorbable and thus degraded in the stomach and rendered useless before it can be absorbed. Insulin was tested in pigs using the microneedle-covered capsule technology and was found to lower blood glucose levels more effectively than subcutaneous insulin injections.

However, the capsule took longer than a week to go through the digestive tract and evidence of tissue damage was not apparent. The scientists also claim the gastrointestinal (GI) tract has no pain receptors so no discomfort is felt as the microneedle-covered capsule moves through the GI canal.

The new medication delivery mechanism may be better suited for injecting into the gut a class of drugs called biologics that include vaccines, recombinant DNA, RNA, and antibodies, such as those for autoimmune diseases like arthritis and Crohn’s disease that often require intravenous infusions to ensure effective drug delivery.  Nanoparticles and microparticles were originally engineered for oral medication delivery for biologics but they are expensive to manufacture and a new system has to be created for a different drug. With the microneedle-covered capsule, the researchers are aiming for a universal delivery system that can be reproduced for different drugs inexpensively.

To ensure absolute safety, the scientists are working on replacing the stainless steel needles with digestible polymers and sugar that would continue to release medication into the GI lining once it breaks off from the capsule and lodges itself into the gut as it decomposes.

‘Eye’ See Veins: Glasses that Aid with IV Placement and Phlebotomy

Evena Medical, a Silicon Valley technology company that specializes in medical imaging, recently launched its Eyes-On Glasses system to help healthcare providers “see” veins through the skin for efficient intravenous (IV) access. Patients who are considered “hard sticks” with “bad,” or imperceptible, veins won’t require multiple needle sticks for IV placement and phlebotomy procedures.

The system combines Epson’s Moverio smart glasses, with its special “see-through” technology, and dual cameras to produce “multispectral 3D images” so healthcare professionals can see patients’ veins in real time. One set of camera lens displays the skin as it is, while the “see-through” cameras superimposes the image of veins onto the lens the wearer is peering through, so the viewer can “see” the veins for easy and accurate vascular access. A microprocessor responsible for image processing and power is worn as a belt and hardwired to the glasses.

About 40 percent of IV insertions require multiple starts causing patient discomfort while taking up much of the healthcare provider’s time. Even successful placement of an IV line on the first attempt is not much of a victory as IV accesses usually have a short life span and a new one has to be inserted, depending on the patients’ length of stay and type of treatment in the hospital. With Evena’s Eyes-On Glasses system, efficiency and minimal discomfort level is achieved. Success rates are particularly expected to be noted in the neonatal and pediatric populations where veins are difficult to spot.

The Eyes-On Glasses comes equipped with digital storage and Wi-Fi capabilities, so images can be transmitted remotely. It is also compatible with Bluetooth technologies. Further, the Glasses can be adapted to interface with a facility’s medical record network for consistent documentation.

The Eyes-On Glasses system is currently being piloted in Europe and Asia and is expected to hit the US market by April 2014.