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Pharma moves into 3D printing with customizable drug delivery devices

By Anthony King , 19-Mar-2015

These shoes were made using a 3D printer. Now pharma is looking for ways to use the futuristic technology.
These shoes were made using a 3D printer. Now pharma is looking for ways to use the futuristic technology.

3D printers have been used to create tailor-made drug delivery tools, including bioactive radiology devices.

The technology has been put to use in engineering and design projects, but 3D printing could also be leveraged by the pharma world, according to a top radiologist.

3D printing technology has been used to transform various industries, and we believe the same can be done in how we treat patients,” Dr Horacio D’Agostino, of Louisiana State University, told a meeting of the Society of International Radiology in Atlanta, Georgia this month.  His department has already succeeding in printing prototype devices to deliver drug to targeted areas in patients. 

Using 3D printers and bioplastics, our team constructed filaments, beads, catheters and stents that contained either antibiotic or chemotherapeutic agents.  We then tested to see if these devices could stop growth of bacteria or cancer cells, respectively.”

‘Customised sizes and shapes’

They found the antibiotic-containing catheters were able to inhibit the growth of E coli in the lab, and tumour cells were inhibited by filament-carrying chemotherapeutic agents in cell cultures.

Although these successes are early successes,” D’Agostino noted. ‘We believe that our findings with this technology highlight the limitless potential of the interventional radiology to offer patient-centred care. With 3-D printers interventional radiology will be able to print catheters and stents almost on demand, in sizes and shapes that are customized to each patient.

The team’s data shows that clinicians will also be able to put active medications in these tailored devices, to deliver medications in a precise and targeted manner.

We also see an opportunity to collaborate with other medical specialties to ensure that all patients benefit from this innovative technology and receive the highest quality of personalized care.  Our team is excited about the work that lies ahead of us: to gain approval of this technology for patients.”

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