Did you ever wonder why do mosquitoes even exist if all they do is spread diseases and give you itchy red bumps? Well, these researchers are making the best use of their existence by studying their bites to make painless injections.
Researchers from Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Ropar, in collaboration with scholars at Ohio State University in the United States, have now developed a technology for painless micro-needles biomimicking mosquitoes.
The study was led by Bharat Bhushan and Navin Kumar of IIT Ropar, and doctoral student Dev Gurera from Ohio State University.
The research paper has been published in the International Journal of the Mechanical Behaviour of Biomedical Materials.
By studying the anatomy of the mosquito namely proboscis–the elongated sucking mouthpart–scientists have now identified how mosquitoes jab their mouth onto their victims with considerably no pain.
Navin Kumar told The Times Of India, “We took the idea of painless needles from the mosquito. It is a new kind of research that will prove helpful for patients who fear piercing.”
By using the nano-indentation technique, scientists studied and analysed the stiffness of the tip of the labrum — an outer cover of the proboscis. They found that the labrum was softer near the tip and the edges, but it remained harder in the upper part.
Another part that helped in the injection was the muscles near the proboscis called the fascicle, which made the insertion easier by vibrating like a bore to reduce the force required to pierce the skin.
Along with this, researchers also noticed that the saliva of the mosquito also aided in the biting process by acting as a numbing agent.
Navin from IIT Ropar told the publication, “Till now, we have only developed a technology, however no such device has been made. In the near future, we may develop the device or needle based on our technology or we will look out for someone who could make this device.”
With the mosquito as a blueprint, the researchers envision a micro-needle with two needles inside, where one would immediately inject a numbing agent while the second needle would act like a proboscis and draw the blood or inject the drug.
Though the device would more likely be costlier than the traditional ones, it would be useful for children for vaccinations and even for people of old age.
(Edited by Shruti Singhal)