--- AKU student hopes govt. will facilitate young innovators like him

A student of Agha Khan University (AKU) is earning plaudits for his invention of pain-free invisible needles. The research of Mir Ibrahim Sajid, 21, is currently undergoing clinical trials at AKU’s affiliated hospital and has been patented to avoid any plagiarism. “I’d see children denying treatment because of the fear of needles, making treatment a painful experience, not only for the child but their caregivers and treating physicians,” Sajid told BaaghiTv.

His research aims to tackle the visual trigger of pain, which accounts for approximately 70pc of the pain. The second trigger of pain is the sensory trigger, which occurs when the needle pierces the skin and causes discomfort, he said.

“The fear of needles develops usually at home, especially when parents discipline their children with the notion of taking them to doctors, who’ll then put a needle in their arm,” he explained. After the prototype device failed to garner desired results, he said his team created a newer model and tested it out on smart-dummy arms, yielding positive results. He said they came up with the concept of a “shield” in which the surface of the shield facing the child is decorated with holographic stickers, essentially diverting the child’s attention from the cannulation procedure—a technique in which tubes are placed in large veins and arteries in the legs, neck or chest in a patient by a health care provider.

“In order to minimize pain, we’ve decided to put on topical anesthesia, which would numb the surface. So, whilst the phlebotomist (the health care professional who draws blood, ensuring that the proper amount is taken and that all blood is properly labeled) places a needle in the skin, the child doesn’t feel the piercing needle,” he said. Sajid said even though the innovation such as this is cheap, it still requires massive funds to carry out large-scale clinical trials. He hoped that the government would facilitate young innovators by giving them a helping hand in terms of providing funds and expertise.
The budding researcher also urged the Drugs Regulation Authority of Pakistan (DRAP) to provide technical expertise, so that his team could take this project to new heights. It is crucial to mention here that Sajid was recently conferred with the Global Pediatric Research Investigator Award by Nature—the world’s leading multidisciplinary science journal.

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