New York, March 27 (). For those afraid of needles, US researchers have developed a system powered by compressed gas that can relatively painlessly deliver vaccines and biologics into the human body.
According to the team at the University of Texas at Dallas, the new injector could have a wide range of applications, from veterinary medicine to agriculture, or even someday human vaccination or treatment.
They presented their results at the ongoing spring meeting of the American Chemical Society (ACS).
Principal investigator Jeremiah Gassensmith bought inexpensive pieces of a compressed gas-powered jet injection system during the COVID pandemic. After returning to campus he handed the pieces over to Yalini Wijesundara, a graduate student in the lab who had previously researched other jet injectors in the 1960s. In a jet injection system, compressed gas is used to inject a narrow stream of fluid.
Wijesundara discovered they could deliver cargo encased in metal-organic frameworks, or MOFs.
These frameworks are porous, crystalline structures that act as molecular cages to contain a wide variety of materials, including nucleic acids and proteins.
They designed a MOF-jet to shoot with air and deliver the powder to the cells.
The team placed the cargo inside a MOF known as zeolytic-imidazole framework eight (ZIF-8). The cargo, he decided, would be in powder form rather than liquid, eliminating the need to store the vaccine at cold temperatures.
To test their system, they introduced the ZIF-8-enclosed gene to onion cells, as well as the ZIF-8-enclosed protein to mice.
In addition, the researchers said that since the MOF-jet can disperse the material over a wide area, it could more evenly deliver cancer therapeutics to melanoma than needles, which are the current delivery method. By controlling only the carrier gas they can deliver chemotherapeutics with a rapid or slow release time frame depending on the needs of the patient.