Year/Course: 2013-2014, Lent 2014
Mentor: Dr Marc Bax

Contact: Rebekah Scheuerle & Stephen Gerrard, Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology, and JustMilk
Mentor: Marc Bax

The JustMilk Nipple Shield Delivery System (NSDS) is a device for dosing infants with nutrients and medications during breastfeeding.  By supplementing breast milk with nutrients and medicines, the device has the potential to combat malnutrition, and prevent or treat conditions including malaria and HIV in the world’s infant population.

A previous i-Team investigated the types of drugs and nutrients that might best be delivered using reuseable nipple shields. Since that time the US-UK research team has received funding from the USAID (United States Agency for International Development) to support continued research and development of the technology with a focus on the developing world.

The current focus is whether it would be possible to create a disposable nipple shield to deliver the medications and nutrients. This would remove the need for sterilisation and assembly by the breast-feeding mother, and would allow the shields to be pre-loaded with single doses of the therapeutic. Such a device would need to be low-cost and designed in such a way to prevent a mother attempting to re-use it.

The question for the i-Team is to investigate ways in which reusable nipple shields could be modified to create disposable ones at lower cost. They will do this by investigating analogous disposable medical technologies to search for potential improvements, and seeking advice from medical device companies and consultants on how to do this. They may also look at questions such as design cues to make it clear that a device is single-use only (across multiple cultures and in countries where not everyone can read), as well as investigating appropriate packaging designs that are low-cost and minimise waste.