Needlesticks a thing of the painful past?

Researchers at Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta are building "micro needles," several hundred of which can be placed in a tiny chip and applied to the skin much like a transdermal patch. Penetrating only the top layer of skin, the needles are painless and could at first provide a single dose of a drug.

What’s more, there is the potential for such microneedle-filled patches to be left on the skin and provide a continuous flow of medication using microprocessor technology. Researchers have already built needles that are just 150 microns long and that make holes about 1 micron in diameter. Additional development is focused on making the needles hollow, increasing the amount of drug they can deliver, and making the needles smaller so the punctures they produce will prevent the entry of infectious bacteria.