A Reusable Insulin Needle for Making It Easier To Be a Diabetes Patient | Danish Diabetes and Endocrine Academy
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A Reusable Insulin Needle for Making It Easier To Be a Diabetes Patient

A Reusable Insulin Needle for Making It Easier To Be a Diabetes Patient -

In a DDA-funded project a PhD student will in collaboration with Novo Nordisk try to develop an insulin needle that can be reused up to 50 times. This will both have a positive impact on the everyday life of patients and be environmentally friendly.

Patients with diabetes requiring insulin should not have a too restrained relationship with needles. Several times a day they usually have to prick themselves with a needle to control their diabetes with insulin. And even though one should think that most get used to it, it is a fact that most diabetes patients never really get comfortable with needles.

It has become known that some diabetes patients reduce the hassle of administering insulin by reusing needles, which are produced for single use only. However, the needles often become bent and change shape when the cap is put back on, and therefore they are not suitable for reuse. A deform needle can be both cumbersome and painful to use. For some this means that they refrain all together from administering their insulin, and as a result they do not get the medicine vital to them.

But now help might be on the way for solving these challenges. In a new research project, funded by Danish Diabetes Academy, Ph.D. student Sofia Wareham Mathiassen will, in collaboration with Novo Nordisk try to develop a new insulin needle intended for reuse.

“What we would like to do with Sofia´s PhD dissertation is to find a system that functions so well on both a microbiological and mechanical level that you can reuse the needle several times if it has only been in contact with skin and has been looked after” Henrik Bengtsson, Principal Specialist at Novo Nordisk says.

Three Phase Trial
The project is divided into three phases, Sofia Wareham Mathiassen elaborates, who is a medico engineer and has been affiliated with Novo Nordisk since she wrote her thesis on this exact topic.

In the first phase, it is all about finding out which bacteria people with diabetes have on their skin and which are on the needle. Hereby one knows which bacteria one must put an effort towards protecting the injection needles against.

The second phase is very much about examining the anti-microbiotic technologies and their efficiency in relation to varying humidity and temperatures, while phase three is implementing the technologies in the reusable needle.

For Sofia Wareham Mathiassen it is a great motivational factor, that her PhD project is so closely related to patients and that there, within a reasonable timeframe, could be a new product ready for the diabetes patients. However, she is still a realist.

“It means a lot to me that my PhD project is not just a “shelf-project”. But in science an array of things can go wrong so nothing is certain. If you for example have exactly seven test items and two of them go wrong, then you only have five good ones and it is hard to get enough material. There is also a risk of it taking a long time before I am shipped needles that are coated correctly” she says.

Sofia Wareham Mathiassen imagines that the most time consuming part of the process will be testing different technologies. On the other hand, she thinks the most challenging part will be getting the necessary approvals from The National Committee on Health Research Ethics.

“It can take a while when you to apply for permission to look at the patients´ skin. But I am of course lucky that I have good support from both Novo Nordisk and The Panum Insitute” she says.

The Environmental Impact Has Been Considered
Apart from a reusable diabetes needle having the advantage that patients do not have to ´fumble´ with needles all the time, and that it keeps its shape and hereby is not painful to use, there is a whole third aspect that goes beyond the patients´ wellbeing.

“In an environmental aspect, the needle that we are hoping to develop will also have the advantage of being environmentally friendly. There will be less material to discard of when both needle and cap can be reused up to 50 times” Henrik Bengtsson says.