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New Medical Technology May Eliminate Need For Needles, Shots

CAMBRIDGE (CBS) - Whether it's a finger prick or a shot in the arm, none of us likes needles.

But new technology could soon take away that fear.

Pain-free options are closer to reality than ever before.

For people like Paul Ferreira, who was diagnosed with diabetes at age 12, and has to draw blood up to 7 times a day, that's great news.

"Granted technology has improved. There are smaller needles. But it is still a needle," he said.

Soon all those needles could be a distant memory.

Seventh Sense Biosystems CEO Howard Weisman says a new device his company created aims to change the way we draw blood.

"Nobody has ever actually attempted to create a pain-free way of extracting blood," Weisman said.

The device, called TAP, uses needles as thin as an eyelash.

"(It) injects solid needles into the skin at extremely high speeds and then under vacuum, blood comes out of those pores and is extracted into the device," Weisman said. "It really is pain-free."

Pain-free is the goal at M.I.T.

The same scientists who helped develop TAP are also working on ways to deliver medicine without needles.

There's one idea to use an ultrasound patch instead of a needle to deliver all types of medication, from cancer treatments to vaccines.

Patches to quit smoking, or for pain relief are already available. But those are only capable of delivering smaller doses.

Another idea, for the syringe of the future, is a tiny high-pressured jet also created at M.I.T.

It fires the drug out at almost the speed of sound.

Researchers say the injection feels like a mosquito bite instead of a shot.

Seventh Sense hopes to be on the market in a year.

And the other devices to replace the dreaded needle might not be far behind.

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