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Inkjet goes medically high tech

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Smart use for old technology

The technology used by inkjet printers can be used to deliver medicines and monitor crucial blood information through medical skin patches, according to Hewlett Packard. HP is licensing a medical patch it has developed that could potentially replace hypodermic needles and pills for delivering needed medications, vaccines and pain medications to patients.

The HP patch reportedly contains up to 90,000 microneedles per square inch, along with microprocessors and a thermal unit. The thermal unit heats the medications that are inside the patch and the medications are then injected by tiny microneedles that have very quickly penetrated the skin. 

Depending on specific programming, microprocessors within the patch can track patient response to the medication, monitor medication delivery, track patient vital signs and deliver doses over an extended period of time.  The technology and equipment used to make the micronneedles was adopted from HP's inkjet manufacturing, and the thermal unit/heating element is the same unit as found inside inkjet heads.

HP is licensing the medical patch for testing to an Irish company named Crospon that was created specifically for the HP medical patch. Enterprise Ireland, an arm of the Irish government, works with start-up companies to bring technology and business to Ireland and worked with HP to get the idea off the ground.

The new patch has had some preliminary testing by HP, but has not been tested on animals or humans yet. Crospon will handle this part of the research. HP holds the patent for this medical patch and the technology that makes it work and plans to offer licenses for it once the patch is perfected and ready for the medical market.

Last modified on 20 September 2007
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