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An easy pill to swallow — new 3D printing study paves the way for personalized medicine

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Credit: University of Nottingham

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Credit: University of Nottingham

A new technique for 3D drug printing has made it possible to print multiple drugs in a single tablet, paving the way for personalized pills that can deliver programmed doses.

Researchers at the University of Nottingham’s Center for Additive Manufacturing led research alongside the School of Pharmacy that manufactured personalized medicines using multi-material inkjet 3D printing (MM-IJ3DP). The research was published in Today’s materials advances.

The team has developed a cutting-edge method that enables the manufacture of customized pharmaceutical tablets with customized drug release profiles, ensuring more precise and effective treatment options for patients.

Using Multi-Material InkJet 3D Printing (MM-IJ3DP), tablets can be printed that release drugs at a controlled rate determined by the tablet design. This is made possible by a new ink formulation based on molecules that are sensitive to ultraviolet light. When printed, these molecules form a water-soluble structure.

The rate of drug release is controlled by the unique inner structure of the tablet, allowing timing of dose release. This method can print multiple drugs in a single tablet, allowing complex drug regimens to be simplified into a single dose.

Dr Yinfeng He, assistant professor at the Faculty of Engineering’s Center for Additive Manufacturing, who led the research, said: “This is an exciting step forward in the development of personalized medicine. This discovery not only highlights the potential of 3D printing in revolutionizing medicine. delivery, but also opens up new avenues for the development of next-generation personalized medicines.”

“While promising, the technology faces challenges, including the need for more formulations to support a wider range of materials. Ongoing research aims to refine these aspects, increasing the feasibility of MM-IJ3DP for large-scale application,” added Professor Ricky Wildman.

This technology will be particularly beneficial in creating drugs that need to release drugs at specific times, making it ideal for treating diseases where the timing and accuracy of doses are crucial. The ability to print 56 pills in a single batch demonstrates the scalability of this technology, offering strong potential for the production of personalized medicine.

Professor Felicity Rose from the University of Nottingham’s Faculty of Pharmacy was one of the co-authors of the research, she says: “The future of prescription medicine is a personalized approach and we know that up to 50% of people in the UK alone. they are not taking their medication correctly and this has an impact on poorer health outcomes, conditions that are not properly controlled or treated.

More information:
Geoffrey Rivers et al., Enabling High-Fidelity Customized Pharmaceutical Tablets by Multimaterial Inkjet 3D Printing with a Water-Soluble Excipient, Materials Today Advances (2024). DOI: 10.1016/j.mtadv.2024.100493