Syringes: Such a Prickly Subject

The fear of needles is real, but hypodermic syringes save or improve the quality of life, whether injecting life-saving drugs or removing blood for analysis. Technically, the “syringe” is the pump part of the assembly and the hypodermic needle attaches to the end. Doctors began experimenting with intravenous injections as early as 1670, but the hypodermic syringe as we know it was simultaneously invented by two doctors around 1850. The first use for the device was the injection of morphine. Mass-produced glass syringes were invented in the 1950s to accommodate a drive to inject one million American children with Jonas Salk’s revolutionary polio vaccine; plastic versions were developed a few years later. The future of the syringe/needle combination is tiny and painless. Chemical engineering professor Mark Prausnitz and electrical engineer Mark Allen, are working on a micro-needle patch that has 400 silicon-based hollow needles spread across its surface. The needles are so tiny they can deliver medication without affecting the nerve cells that cause pain.

michael isenbek

Michael Isenbek, Associate Editor, dabbles in both fiction and nonfiction writing, coordinates the Pulse event listings and writes the text for "Zoom," among other editorial tasks. He has a Master's Degree in Liberal Studies and a Bachelor's Degree in Cultural Studies with a concentration in Journalism from SUNY Empire State College.