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New technology could aid in development of less-painful subcutaneous biologic administration

Photo by: Purdue University

Researchers from Purdue University in West Lafayette, Ind., have developed a technology they say will allow pharmaceutical manufacturers to adjust formulations and develop injection devices to reduce the pain of subcutaneous injections.

The investigators note in a press release that eight of the 10 top-selling pharmaceuticals in the U.S. are biologics, such as those used for treating psoriasis, and that there is a growing interest in subcutaneous delivery of these medications as it can allow patients to medicate themselves at home.

However, they say the pain and discomfort associated with subcutaneous injection has prevented this approach from being widely adopted.

“There is currently no reliable platform to quantify pain and discomfort induced by injections for optimizing drug formulations,” said Bumsoo Han, a professor of mechanical engineering in Purdue’s college of engineering, in the release. “Patients are used to being told to measure their pain levels on a scale from one to 10. We hypothesize that the pain is related to tissue swelling during injection. Our platform enables prediction of mechanical stress and interstitial fluid pressure to optimize drug formulations with the goal of reducing pain and discomfort during subcutaneous injection.”

Han and his team have developed a biometric platform that uses an automatic injector to push a medication into an engineered skin model to see how the injection interacts with the skin tissues. The researchers then use the platform to measure stress and pressure, and to quantify injection-induced tissue swelling.

“We created the platform to provide new information to drug makers to help them better understand the amount of pain a certain injectable medication may cause a patient,” Han said. “They can then work to design and optimize the drug formulations or injection devices to minimize the pain associated with injection.”

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