News, Culture & Society

14yo student from Liverpool in Sydney spends Covid-19 lockdown creating needle-free Epipen

How a 14-year-old girl living in one of the hardest lockdown zones in Sydney’s west invented a needle-free injection – as she prepares to return to school and print the prototype

  • Jorja Suga, 14 has spent her 3 month lockdown designing a needle-free Epipen 
  • Year 9 student from Liverpool in Sydney’s West came up with the idea last year 
  • ‘Epinject’ is a epinephrine injector, uses high pressured springs without a needle
  • Jorja previously won an award for an invention of ‘Safety Smart Goggles’ in 2019

A young high school student from Sydney’s west has spent her lockdown inventing a needle-free injection while she anxiously waits for her school to reopen again.  

Jorja Suga, 14, has been eagerly waiting for her school to reopen so she gain access to a 3D printer to create the prototype for the invention she’s been working on all lockdown. 

The year 9 student from Liverpool has been designing a needle-free version of the Epipen while undergoing home learning for the last three months. 

A budding inventor, Jorja began developing the idea for a school project at the end of last year before the Delta outbreak plunged the city into a statewide lockdown.

Jorja Suga, 14, (pictured) spent most of her lockdown designing a needle-free version of the Epipen 

‘At the end of last year we were doing a school project based on STEM [Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics],’ Jorja told Daily Mail Australia.

‘I wanted to look more into the biology side of innovation.’ 

While in home learning, Jorja began researching anaphylaxis and came across studies that showed a person’s fear of needles might stop them from using an Epipen.  

An Epipen could deter some users suffering from anaphylaxis who may have a fear of needles (pictured, stock photo)

An Epipen could deter some users suffering from anaphylaxis who may have a fear of needles (pictured, stock photo)

She also developed it in response to needle related injuries. 

The device is still able to produce a high-pressure stream of adrenaline into the person, empowering both the young and old to use it.

‘It is called the EpinJect,’ she said. 

‘It’s a needle-free epinephrine injector, it works using high pressured springs, those high pressured springs use enough force to pierce the skin without using a needle.’ 

The budding inventor (pictured) hopes to print her prototype 'EpinJect' pen when she has access to her school's 3D printer

The budding inventor (pictured) hopes to print her prototype ‘EpinJect’ pen when she has access to her school’s 3D printer 

The Epipen Jorja is working on looks like a regular injector that is placed against the thigh, but when the button is pushed it injects the medication without a needle. 

Jorja said she does not suffer from anaphylaxis but when she entered a competition in 2019 for a previous invention, it peaked her interest in biological innovation. 

‘I did another invention in Year 7 that won a big competition and that made me want to explore biology further,’ she said. 

Her earlier invention was part of Origin Energy’s 2019 national littleBIGidea competition, placing her among just three winners for her ‘Safety Smart Goggles’.

The swimming goggles were designed to prevent drownings in young children.

‘It uses a microchip in the nose chip which is connected to a parent or guardians bluetooth so when the child is underwater the parents get an alert,’ she said. 

Jorja is now waiting to secure a patent for her design, but first she wants to go back to school so she can access a 3D printer to create her prototype.

‘At the moment we’re trying to do a prototype and then look into a patent or working with a company,’ she said.

‘I can’t really get back to school because we’re in home learning right now.’ 

The Year 9 student says she has dreams of eventually becoming a biomedical engineer, but in the meantime she waits for her school to reopen in mid October. 

‘I want to be a biomedical engineer, one of the judges for the first competition was one,’ she said.