For years researchers have sought alternatives to the finger-pricking method for measuring blood glucose levels. People with diabetes typically test their glucose levels several times a day by pricking their finger and analyzing their blood. But the pain of this constant finger-pricking drives many patients to avoid checking their blood sugar levels, which places them at higher risk for poor health.
Needle-free devices and technologies offer alternatives to needles and syringes that avoid the issues of needle phobia, needlestick injuries and the transmission of blood-borne diseases. Because needle-free devices are painless, effective and safe drug delivery methods, pharmaceutical companies will continue to invest billions on new delivery technologies during the next five to 10 years. Also, continuous innovation and availability of newer needle-free drug delivery systems have the potential to deliver highly viscous drug products that traditional needle and syringe methods are unable to administer, adding to the utility of the technology.
In the glucose monitoring segment of the needle-free drug delivery market, a new invention may offer people with diabetes relief from the pain of the finger-pricking method. Researcher Amay Bandodkar and his colleagues at Professor Joseph Wang’s laboratory at the University of California at San Diego have created a flexible sensor that measures a person’s blood sugar levels using a mild electrical current. The device, a thin tattoo paper printed with electrodes of silver and silver chloride ink and a blood glucose sensor made of a glucose-sensitive enzyme, is applied to the skin like a rub-on tattoo. A mild electrical current applied to the skin for 10 minutes draws sodium ions, which carry glucose molecules, from the fluid between skin cells toward the electrodes. The sensor in the tattoo then measures the strength of the electrical charge produced by the glucose to determine blood sugar levels.
The tattoo sensor currently doesn’t provide a readout of glucose measures (the device has to be removed and analyzed for that), but researchers are working on that particular feature. According to Bandodkar, “The readout instrument will also eventually have Bluetooth capabilities to send this information directly to the patient's doctor in real-time, or store data in the cloud. The team is also working on ways to make the tattoo last longer while keeping its overall cost down, he added. In its current form, the device lasts for about a day and costs a few cents.
Needle-free devices like the tattoo sensor and other technologies are driving growth in the needle-free drug delivery markets. The global market for needle-free drug delivery technologies is expected to almost double from $1.1 billion in 2014 to $2.1 billion in 2019, reflecting a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 14.3%. Within the needle-free device and technology market, the needle-free injector segment is anticipated as one of the fastest growing segments.
For our BCC Research report on needle-free drug delivery technologies, visit the following link: