Is wearable EpiPen medicine's next big thing?

Students at Rice University come up with idea to help friend

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An undergrad class project could be medicine’s next big thing. Five students at Rice University created an EpiPen that you can wear on your wrist, this way the medicine is always accessible for people with allergies. 

When Albert Han began studying engineering at Rice University in Houston, he met a new group of friends. They clicked instantly.

“As we kind of got to know each other better and worked with each other more we were able to complement each other‘s strengths and weaknesses,” said Han.

So when one of the friends, Justin Tang, explained that he has a severe peanut allergy and that it’s bulky to carry an EpiPen everywhere, these friends put their mind to the task.

“I was like, 'OK, that’s bold and ambitious and the scope of that project is pretty large,'" said Dr. Deirdre Hunter, lecturer of Engineering Design at Rice University Houston.

The idea was to create an injection device so portable that it could fit in a watch. 

For weeks, they worked on the design, creating a prototype that could fold in three pieces. And when it finally came down to put it all together, EpiWear was born.

“That was a very exciting moment for us because coming from scratch, we didn’t actually expect anything to work, honestly,” Han said.

According to a 2018 survey published in Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, even though 89% of patients fill their prescriptions; only 44% said they actually carry epinephrine on them. 

“Those first two moments of having an allergic reaction are like the most vital and critical,” said Deirdre.

Han hopes their device will change that statistic, helping thousands of people -- and one close friend. 

The students plan to finalize their design and then apply for FDA approval.