Daily Court Reporter - News Mosquitoes are focus of Ohio State needle study
Mosquitoes are focus of Ohio State needle study
KEITH ARNOLD, Daily Reporter Staff Writer
Just as some central Ohio municipalities begin fogging for mosquitoes and others test specimens for West Nile virus, The Ohio State University announced publication of study that looks to the bothersome bug for microneedle technology.
Specifically, the study centered on the mosquito's ability to pierce human skin without even the slightest indication to the human host.
Researchers believe something may be learned from nature's design of the mosquito to create a painless microneedle for medical purposes.
"Mosquitoes must be doing something right if they can pierce our skin and draw blood without causing pain," said Bharat Bhushan, Ohio Eminent Scholar and Howard D. Winbigler Professor of mechanical engineering at Ohio State. "We can use what we have learned from mosquitoes as a starting point to create a better microneedle."
Bhushan and his colleagues reported detailed analysis of the mosquito's proboscis - the part that feeds on humans.
They identified four keys to how the insects pierce us without pain: Use of a numbing agent; a serrated design to the "needle"; vibration during the piercing; and a combination of soft and hard parts on the proboscis.
Published online in the Journal of the Mechanical Behavior of Biomedical Materials, the study was jointly led by Bhushan and Navin Kumar, a professor at the Indian Institute of Technology, Ropar. Ohio State doctoral student Dev Guerra is also a co-author.
According a press release announcing publication, researchers analyzed the outer cover of the proboscis, called the labrum, on female Aedes vexan mosquitoes - the most common North American mosquito.
They used a technique called nanoindentation to probe how hard and stiff the tip of the labrum was in seven different places. Researchers concluded that the labrum is softest near the tip and edges, becoming stiffer and harder farther in and up the labrum.
"This is important because a softer and more compliant tip may cause less pain when it pierces the skin because it deforms the skin less," Bhushan said.
A serrated proboscis and numbing agent - the mosquito's saliva - complete the perfect, pain-free method to draw human blood.
Based on these findings, Bhushan envisions a microneedle with two needles inside - one would immediately inject a numbing agent, while the second serrated needle would draw the blood or inject the drug. It would also vibrate as it is inserted.
He said that a microneedle like this would be more expensive than a traditional needle and probably could not be used for such needs as pumping intravenous fluids or drawing a large amount of blood.
Additionally, it could be used for children or adults who are particularly phobic about the use of needles.
"We have the materials and knowledge to create a microneedle like this," Bhushan said. "The next step is to find the funding support to create and test such a device."
Date Published: July 23, 2018