Researchers at UCL, London, have developed a new 3D printing technology that could revolutionize personalized medicine. Using a printer named ‘M3DIMAKER LUX’ they proved that printing custom-made pills containing specific drug doses is possible.
Moreover, these pills can be printed in pill-like or circular tablet shape, have any size that fits the purpose, and accommodate a precise medication release rate.
Finally, multiple drugs can be mixed into a single pill, so those who take a combination of several medications in a day will be absolved of the need to keep track of a complex administration schedule.
For example, a doctor could prescribe a personalized drug formulation recipe to the patient’s 3D printer at home, or to the pharmacy that would produce these for the patient. While this opens up cybersecurity concerns that aren’t present in traditional systems, they also unlock a world of possibilities that can benefit those in need of medication.
As for how this is done, the printer starts with an “empty” edible resin where drug substances can be dissolved in a highly controlled manner. The carrier liquid is a photo-reactive chemical that is passed into the 3D printer’s resin tank. From there, the printing continues as a regular fused deposition modeling (FMD) process.
Alternatively, the printer may use a direct powder extrusion nozzle and a powdered mix of drug and excipients, but the approach is essentially the same. This gives the printer a much-needed versatility in the medication sector and lifts limitations in drug prescription.
As proof of concept, the researchers demonstrated their system using two common smartphones and then printed various sizes and shapes of pills containing warfarin, a common blood thinner.
While this drug printer needs to go through testing, human trials, and approval from regulatory authorities, it is clear that this is the future in personalized medicine, and the future is already here.