Based on citrus 'microjets'

New idea for disposable medication delivery device

Research into the microjets that citrus fruits release when squeezed has uncovered a potentially cheaper, simpler way of delivering inhaled medications. A team working out of the University of Central Florida opened the door to the new delivery method by researching how oranges create microjets. These microjets could reshape how drugs are delivered.

In citrus fruits, microjets emerge when a section of the peel springs open under pressure to release oil stored in microscopic reservoirs below the surface.

Today, the generation of microjets can only be achieved by complex, precision-engineered components, such as piezoelectric drivers and microfabricated nozzles. The citrus-inspired approach would be simpler.

"A lightweight foam pad would come wrapped in a plastic pouch, protected from bending by a cardboard sleeve. To use, the foam is extracted from its sleeve and placed near the mouth," researcher Andrew Dickerson told

"The user gives it a little squeeze, perhaps folding the foam pad. Jets burst from the shiny, thin membrane covering one side of the pad, creating a brief fine mist, easily inhaled by the user."

Dickerson's vision dispenses with the expensive, complex microjet technologies used today in favour of drug reservoirs that burst forth under pressure. This simpler, cheaper approach could enable the creation of single-use emergency inhalers suitable for use in public clinics or remote villages.

Similarly, the compact, low-weight form of the envisaged delivery devices would make them suitable for use in first-aid kits or by people who need to carry emergency inhalers. Dickerson thinks it would be possible to deliver most liquids using the device, provided they are neither too volatile nor too viscous.

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