Auto-injection device helps improve arthritis drug delivery

A new device could make it easier and less painful for arthritis sufferers to inject their medication.

The auto-injection technology designed by Cambridge Consultants heats the viscous anti-inflammatory drug solution often used for teating osteoarthritis to body temperature, making it runnier and therefore easier to inject.

Less viscous drugs can be injected more quickly and with a smaller needle, thereby causing less pain. The device is also engineered to allow patients with arthritic hands to inject themselves using a reusable in-built spring system.

‘We’ve taken a patient group that we think isn’t very well served by current technology on the market, and improved the technology no end to assist them,’ director of drug delivery, Matthew Allen, told The Engineer.

The device heats the drug to body temperature in under a minute and the researchers claim this reduces the injection time by around 30 per cent (five to six seconds).

‘There’s also evidence to suggest injecting the drug at body temperature reduces the pain and potentially improves the dispersion of the drug in the body,’ said Allen. ‘So there’s possibly a physical benefit from warming it up.’

Cambridge Consultants says its device cuts injection times by 30 per cent.

The auto-injector contains thermal sensors and a resistive wire wrapped around a disposable drug and syringe cartridge, and controlled by an electronic system located in a separate base unit to keep them safe.

This uses a mathematical model to heat and then maintain the drug at the required temperature, which the researchers say could enable the device to be tailored for different medications.

‘Other [auto-injector] products on the market are disposable so you get a lot of plastic bits you don’t need that you throw away, so in the long-run it’s a cheaper mechanism than the disposable ones,’ said Allen.

The company has applied for a patent for the technology and is now looking for ways and partners to develop the technology for commercial production.