Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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No Longer Needled
11 January 2016

No Longer Needled

Having a blood test can be inconvenient and painful. But for those who need their metabolism monitored daily the constant needling can change their way of life. This revolutionary gadget may be the answer. It looks, oddly enough, like a plaster used to staunch a wound after a blood test, but it’s actually a bed of tiny microneedles made of gel. Pictured peeling away from human skin, each bumpy microneedle (white) has pierced the skin’s stratum corneum barrier, sucking up chemicals underneath. Fluids extracted from the swollen needles can be analysed for signs of disease or drug compounds, and because the device doesn’t penetrate far enough into the skin to trigger any nerves, the process is painless. These little prickly squares could be just the thing for routine tests during clinical trials or to allow diabetics to check their glucose levels without a spilling a single drop of blood.

Written by John Ankers

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