2002-03-31 – Hollow needles for injections
Home nano-tech on a budget

Magnify a steel hypodermic needle up 300 times, and you can see the roughness of the surface. Do the same with a bee’s stinger, and you will notice that it looks beautifully smooth. As anyone who has ever touched a stinging neetle can tell you, the slightest touch can inject you with thousands of tiny doses of formic(?) acid, which irritates the skin and causes immediate pain. Try the same thing with a couple of razor blades, and your skin would not even notice it!

Now, currently, it is beyond the ability of man to grow a needle to replace the crude steel tubes in use in hospitals around the world. The rough surface friction means that injections hurt a lot more than they really need to. How can we overcome this problem?

Hornets are lone creatures, found around the world, which often grow to sizes far beyond that of a wasp or bee. Selective breeding of these monster insects could, I feel, rapidly bring a beastie with a far longer, larger diameter stinger, free of barbs and perfectly formed on the nanometer scale.

These would then be cloned and the resulting insects farmed under clean conditions, meaning that they could be certified clean, and be harvested for use. They could be sterilised with steam, and used in a modified syringe. Obviously these would be more expensive than a man-made needle, but the difference in pain experianced would probably make them a firm favorite of parents and children alike!

A further development could be a system where-by a plant-like array of tiny needles, like the stinging nettle, could inject the drug of choice painlessly. Heck, add some genetic engineering, and you could even have the plant grow your drug of choice, ready for main-lining!

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