Syringe could save lives in developing world

Three Cambridge University engineering students have come up with a new design for a syringe that may have the potential to save hundreds of thousands of lives in the developing world.

The trio of third year students − Adrian Wallis, Harry Simpson and Luke Jesson − are now planning to apply for a patent for their design.

The syringe design − named Sharpsure by the students − aims to tackle the risk of infection faced by millions of people in the developing world caused by inadequate disposal of syringes.

Wallis said that the reuse of syringes causes an estimated 1.3m early deaths worldwide each year and, although mechanisms have recently been invented to prevent syringes from being used more than once, no-one has found a way to ensure that the syringes are then disposed of safely.

’Our solution involves separating the ’sharps’, or needles, from the less dangerous plastic syringe body at the point of use, making it much easier to ensure that they are safely disposed of. We have redesigned the syringe itself to make the separation action as cheap, simple and safe as possible, ’ he said.

The three students are now in conversation with Cambridge Enterprise − the university-owned company that supports the commercialisation of ideas generated within the university − about patenting their invention.