Who Needs Needles? Not These Medtech Companies

These seven medtech companies aren't just moving the needle, they're getting rid of it all together!

  • Anyone who has ever been to the doctor’s office as a kid knows there’s usually one fearful reason you don’t want to go: needles. Even as adults, healthcare workers regularly deal with patients who pass out at the mere sight of a needle. For years patients have relied on needles for crucial medical procedures like immunizations, drug delivery, and bloodwork. But what if these procedures could be done without the pain and stress of a big bad needle?

    That’s a question the world of medtech is finally starting to answer, as device makers have begun to create technologies that replace needles with less invasive, less painful technologies. From needle-free blood collection to AI-based blood glucose monitoring, it's not unrealistic to imagine a world in which a fear of needles (in medicine, at least) is a thing of the past.

    Let's take a look at some of the latest technologies that could push medical needles to the brink of extinction.

    Pixabay
  • These days when it comes to administering pharmaceutical drugs, you don’t have to be a toddler to prefer virtually any method over a needle. Rani Therapeutics is in the process of developing an ingestible drug-delivery pill that is a combination of device and drug that can deliver drug payloads to specific sites in the body before dissolving naturally.

    The RaniPill, as it’s called, is an oral capsule that is specifically designed to protect a drug payload until it is ready to be delivered across the intestinal wall and into the bloodstream. The pill comes with tiny needles that inject the drugs into the intestinal wall once ingested, allowing the drugs to enter the bloodstream while the rest of the capsule dissolves naturally. The capsules can deliver a variety of drugs including antibodies and peptide proteins, and the company is currently in the process of seeking FDA approval.

    Rani Therapeutics
  • In another effort to end needle-based drug delivery, Portal Instruments recently teamed up with Japanese pharmaceutical giant Takeda to develop a new needle-free drug delivery device that can be used to treat chronic conditions. The new technology could be used to replace needle-based injections that are used for conditions like ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease, along with other gastrointestinal disorders and diseases.

    The new device was designed to deliver drugs through the use of pressurized liquid, a method that has clinically shown to be less painful when compared to traditional needle-based injections. The device also comes with a computer-controlled system that automatically adjusts for changes in the drug’s viscosity so that it can deliver precise dosages in just half a second. It was even designed for self-use, potentially offering a simple solution for patients to use at home, while also completely eliminating the need for handling and disposing of needles.

    Portal Instruments
  • Diabetes patients have long awaited for a way to avoid the daily pain and hassle of needle-based therapies. Medtronic wants to help usher in that new era with the latest version of its MiniMed Mio insulin infusion set — an insulin pump system specifically designed to make the process of changing infusion sets quicker and easier.

    Patients who use insulin pumps generally change their infusion set every two or three days and are required to choose different insertion sites to prevent skin damage and breakdown. The new MiniMed Mio uses a concealed needle to insert a cannula, or small tapered tube, under the skin to deliver insulin. The device allows for no exposed needles at any point during insertion, allowing for users to never see or come into contact with their insertion set needle.

    Medtronic plc
  • Last fall Abbott Laboratories scored a major win for Americans with diabetes when it received FDA approval for the FreeStyle Libre glucose monitoring system as a replacement for blood glucose monitoring (BGM) in adults.

    The approval eliminates routine finger sticks, which have been the standard of glucose testing for more than 40 years.

    The BGM replacement indication means people with diabetes and their doctors can now make treatment decisions based on information from the FreeStyle Libre system, without the need for routine finger sticks. The approval of this indication came much earlier than expected.

    Abbott Laboratories
  • The very idea of a needle-free blood collection device might seem like an impossible feat, but that's exactly what Velano Vascular, a relatively new company based in San Francisco, CA, has done. The company's PIVO needle-free blood collection device was cleared by FDA just over a year ago.

    The single-use blood collection device, which comes in 20- and 22-gauge sizes, attaches to a peripheral IV system. The device works by advancing an inner tube via a slider mechanism through the peripheral IV catheter system. PIVO also contains a proximal flexible tube with female luer that attaches to a blood transfer device or syringe, into which a blood sample is collected.

  • Halkey-Roberts was among the first to start the needle-free movement when the company launched its line of split-septum swabbable valves for infection control that were specifically designed to eliminate the need for needles.

    The swabbable valves feature a patented design with tube-end luer valves that can be used in a variety of different applications that require high flow and a closed system. The valve provides a hermetic seal between syringe luer tips and the valve, eliminating the need for a luer connector and a bonding operation. The valves are made from latex-free materials, and have already begun reducing the use of needles on patients being treated for infections.

    The swabbable valves feature a patented design with tube-end luer valves that can be used in a variety of different applications that require high flow and a closed system. The valve provides a hermetic seal between syringe luer tips and the valve, eliminating the need for a luer connector and a bonding operation. The valves are made from latex-free materials, and have already begun reducing the use of needles on patients being treated for infections.

  • Aspire Ventures plans to completely change the way diabetes is treated through the use of a new adaptive artificial intelligence platform known as A2I. The new diabetes management system was recently pitted against some of Europe’s best diabetes specialists in an observational trial and the A2I was able to prove it could offer patients a more personalized and less invasive solution for managing their blood glucose levels than any other specialist.

    The system completely removes the need for patients to prick their fingers with needles to get blood glucose readings and instead offers non-invasive biometric sensors — essentially stickers — which can be leveraged against personalized blood glucose prediction models. The system was designed to use any type of data, from text and video to biometrics, and can draw from a catalog of analytical components to assemble and optimize data from multiple algorithms to build the best adaptable algorithm for each patient.

    The company plans to stage larger clinical trials as they pursue FDA approval for the technology so that the platform can begin being used for treatment as soon as possible.

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