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A No-Needles Solution

From Florida High Tech Corridor 2014 publication (p.22):

Trypanophobia may seem an innocuous name, but for those with a fear of needles, having blood drawn is no laughing matter. Needle-phobia is one of the most common fears, and drawing blood is one of the most ubiquitous medical procedures that nearly everyone faces at some point in their lives. Altamonte Springs-based NoNeedles Venipuncture is working on addressing this common fear with the research backing of Dr. Rodrigo Amezcua Correa, assistant professor of optics at the University of Central Florida. Thanks to the Florida High Tech Corridor Council’s Matching Grants Research Program, they are developing a process that uses laser pulses to draw blood without using a needle, which could have a major impact on the medical field with a particular focus on pediatrics.

The innovative process uses a laser beam that is fired through the skin in one quadrillionth of a second to create a microscopic channel into the vein. The bloodstream is then connected to a port to collect the blood sample before a laser is fired again to seal the channel and stop the bleeding. The result is a quick, accurate and painless procedure for collecting blood.

“Our design of this instrument is intended to improve the process of performing a venipuncture – such that the quality will be better and the cost will be lower,” said Calvin Wiese, president of NoNeedles Venipuncture. “We’re fairly confident that if we can get the technology to work the way we expect it to, it will be universally adopted.” This research is a prime example of the multitude of applications found within the optics and photonics industry. CREOL, the Center for Research and Education in Optics and Lasers at UCF, conducts cutting-edge research using optics and lasers with applications in a variety of industries in addition to the medical field, including defense, energy, aerospace and more.

“What excites me most about this project is to see the vast potential of lasers. Every day you see more applications,” said Amezcua Correa. “If you can use lasers to cure some medical conditions or make common procedures easier, that’s very exciting to me.”

NoNeedles Venipuncture’s process also represents a vast improvement over current laser tissue methods, such as those used in laser tattoo removal, which require a large laser pulse that uses a lot of energy and often burns patients’ skin. In addition to the obvious benefits of eliminating pain and the “scare factor” many patients experience, a needleless system would also provide a much lower risk of contamination from blood-borne pathogens.

Initial results have been promising and the team hopes to complete additional studies on real human or animal tissue as the next step toward meeting their research goals. “The money we’ve received from the Florida High Tech Corridor Council has helped us a lot in our research efforts,” said Amezcua Correa. “We’ve been able to build a research group and bring students on board to support our efforts. It’s just a great opportunity for the university and for the company.”

Posted Thursday, May 1, 2014

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