The moment of anxiety is undeniable as you pull up your sleeve and hear the constricting tourniquet go snap! You can’t help but look as the hypodermic needle approaches. While modern medical needles may be wonders of minimalist function, their sharp and slender shape entering the skin’s surface like a good-willed mosquito is, for many, a terrifying sight.
Dizziness, fainting, panic, in extreme cases some people even go into convulsions from vasovagal reflex reactions caused by trypanophobia or ‘fear of needles’. It can lead to avoidance of crucial vaccinations, self-administered insulin injections and the like. Add the risk of post-application infections and the consequences are dangerous or even fatal.
But as entrepreneurial, empathic UBC Professor Boris Stoeber notes, it can be just as tough for the person on the other end of that syringe. Administering medicos (especially trainees) not only worry about jittery, jumpy or combative needle-phobic patients, there’s the real fear of ‘needle stick’ — themselves getting accidentally jabbed by that same needle.
What if you could eliminate the pain and fear of needles once and for all? It would appear that a UBC startup may have done exactly that.
As co-founder, chief technology officer and a driving force behind Vancouver-based medical-device startup Microdermics Inc., Stoeber and his colleagues have devised and patented near-invisible micro-scale injection needles designed to be superior to the feared traditional hypodermics.
The Microneedle Injection Platform (MNIP), when combined with the reformulation of existing generic drugs, creates very positive “disruptive effects on the healthcare system” while avoiding disruptive effects on patients. Stoeber explains: “We came up with a fairly inexpensive process to repeatedly reproduce an array of metal needles and we patented this process because it is powerful compared to other approaches that have been developed before. That‘s what our company is based on — this process for fabricating these needles.”
The technology and company was birthed and nurtured at UBC, designed to target the multi-billion-dollar global bio-pharmaceutics market.