For those of us who pale at the sight of a needle, it may be comforting to know that it may soon be possible to receive vaccines through a puff of air.

A team at the University of Texas Dallas (UTD) is investigating how to deliver vaccines through a jet injector — a needle-free alternative that apparently shows potential in various therapeutic applications.

A recent conference held by the American Chemical Society highlighted the technology and UTD’s work.

Dr. Jeremiah Gassensmith, associate professor of chemistry and biochemistry at UTD and principal investigator in the project, explained to KERA News that the injector “uses a puff of air to shoot microscopic particles into your skin, and those microscopic particles contain the therapeutic.”

This injector differs greatly from those used in the large-scale immunization campaigns seen in the 1950s, which shot out a highly pressurized fluid.

“Back then, the idea of using water as a carrier has a lot of, you know, cross-contamination risks. Plus, it’s painful,” Gassensmith remarked, according to KERA News.

The new tech delivers a sensation similar to that of getting shot by a Nerf bullet, Gassensmith added.

Instead of appearing as an injectable fluid, the medication is in a new crystalline compound akin to a powder. This metal-organic framework makes it thermally stable and thus doesn’t require refrigeration.

Calling this “a really big benefit,” Gassensmith told KERA News that this would save a lot of money on manufacturing, transporting, and storing the medication.

The team tried out different types of gas in the injector and found that using carbon dioxide sped up the release of the medication within the cells compared to regular air.

This means quick or gradual release times could be configured based on a patient’s requirements and at no apparent disadvantage to the compound’s composition.

“Once we realized that, it opened up a lot of possibilities,” said Gassensmith, according to Revyuh.

While the team is mainly focusing on using the new injector technology to administer vaccines, it has also explored using it to deliver cancer therapeutics.

The prevalence of cancer in the U.S. is rising, with the National Cancer Institute reporting the annual rate of new cancer cases at 442.4 per 100,000 people.

Being overweight could be contributing to this surge in numbers. Above all, obesity increases the risk of certain cancers and cardiovascular disease, the leading cause of death nationwide. Obesity rates in Dallas-Fort Worth are some of the worst in the country, as The Dallas Express reported.

Several advances in biotechnology like the air injector have aimed at developing less-invasive therapies for patients suffering from a variety of illnesses.

As The Dallas Express reported, some skin appliques have targeted treating peanut allergies or even correcting irregular beats of the heart caused by arrhythmia.