Dental anesthesia delivered via electric current could offer needle-free alternative

Renata Fonseca Vianna Lopez

The aim in many drug delivery pursuits is to make the patient experience simpler and more comfortable, and one way to make that happen is by going needle-free, especially in the dentist's office. A new study from researchers in Brazil has shown that it's possible to administer anesthetics using an electric current instead.

Scientists at the University of São Paulo found in an animal model that a hydrogel solution containing lidocaine and prilocaine, pushed along with an electrical process called iontophoresis, permeated the mouth lining 12 times more effectively than needle delivery.

"Needle-free administration could save costs, improve patient compliance, facilitate application and decrease the risks of intoxication and contamination," said lead author Renata Fonseca Vianna Lopez. "This may facilitate access to more effective and safe dental treatments for thousands of people around the world."

Along with dentistry, the team has said that the technique could potentially be used for anesthesia in cancer treatments and other areas. These tests are still in the very early stages.

The researchers published their findings in the journal Colloids and Surfaces B: Biointerfaces.

"Over the last few years, our research group has been working on the development of novel drug delivery systems for the treatment of several skin and eye diseases," Lopez said. "The skin and eyes pose challenges for drug delivery, so we have focused on improving drug delivery in these organs using nanotechnology, iontophoresis and sonophoresis, which is permeation using sound waves."

- here's the release