STEM Tuesday: A Shot in the Gut

Carl Schoellhammer invented a new kind of pill.

Or did he invent a new kind of shot?

Both.  A shot inside a pill.   

Hear how and why Carl invented the micro needle.  He was still a grad student. [tweetthis]He says he didn’t set out to be an inventor. He just saw a need.[/tweetthis]

The patient swallows what looks like a large vitamin that contains the medicine.  The coating on the micro needle dissolves in the stomach and the gut squeezed the micro needle, causing the medicine to inject into the lining for the intestines.  No pain because the gut doesn’t feel pain.


The “pill” is about ¾ of an inch long and takes about 11 days to make it’s way through the system.  The only thing that bothers me about that is all the tiny stainless steel needles that will end up in the city sewer systems.  If there’s a lot of them, it will wreak havoc on their system. But then again, so many things that don’t belong there are wreaking havoc with the natural digestion of biological waste streams, so maybe these are less harmful than what’s already there.

That’s pretty fantastic for anyone who must have routine injections, like diabetics.  I wonder if post-surgery injections of heparin could be done this way.  That was torturous for both me and CoCo after her osteomyelitis surgery.

So many people avoid taking their medicine or getting routine vaccinations because of their fear of needles.  Besides that, there’s always a risk of a needle stick to the person giving the injection, or spread of disease by re-used needles.

But there’s more. Micro needles can be used to “inject” vaccines through the skin. The microneedle inflicts about as much pain as a cat’s tongue against the skin. Warning: the visual aid in this video actually look painful because the needles are so not-micro. But look at this tiny patch in this guys fingers.  It looks like science fiction. The happy kind of science fiction.

 What do you think?  Would you opt for microneedle therapy over traditional needles?