Professor Ryan Donnelly from Queens University Belfast and his team have researched an alternative to hypodermic needles, as one in ten of us are said to fear them. They have developed a small patch, similar to Velcro, but containing 361 tiny needles.
The device looks like a small, clear plastic patch about half a centimetre across, which easily sits on the tip of your finger. One side looks quite rough.
“It’s a patch with 361 tiny, individual needles on it,” explains Prof Donnelly.
The patch feels slightly rough to the touch, something akin to Velcro or a cats tongue. But the individual needles are extremely hard, and sharp at the tips.
Unlike normal hypodermic needles, these microneedles only penetrate the top layer of your skin. They don’t contact the nerves, which is why you feel no pain. Nor do they go into your blood vessels.
Instead they collect the so called interstitial fluid which surrounds the cells in the outer layer of skin.
This fluid contains all the information the doctor requires.
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