Future of 3D medicine printing: One pill shall rule them all
A team of researchers from the National University of Singapore (NUS) have found a way to make personalised medicine cheaper and easier. Imagine if you could combine the myriad of pills you need to take for your ailment in just one tablet; or if you need only to take the medication once a day and the drug will be slowly released throughout the day at different rates to treat your illness; or if doctors could easily make tablets on the spot that are tailored to each patient’s needs.
All these could become a reality with a new method of tablet fabrication designed by Assistant Professor Soh Siow Ling and PhD student Ms. Sun Yajuan from the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at the NUS Faculty of Engineering. The novel system can make customisable pills that release drugs with any desired release profiles.
Customised tablets for optimal therapeutic results
Releasing drugs in a timely manner is important for optimal therapeutic effect in the human body. Different types of clinical circumstances may call for different types of timed release of drugs.
One common type of release profile is that of a constant one: the drug is released at the same rate for a period of time, as there is only a narrow range of concentration in which the drug can be effective. However, certain chemicals, such as hormones, may need to be released in pulses at regular intervals, in sync with the biological cycles of the human body. In situations where a relatively large dose of drug is needed initially to act against their targets rapidly, followed by gradually lower levels to maintain health – for example, in arthritis, a large dose is required initially to eliminate pain in the morning, followed by smaller doses to keep the pain from recurring – a decreasing release profile would be appropriate.
While there are some existing tablet-production methods, including 3D printing, that can allow certain flexibility, they have their limitations – low dosage, release profiles that are non-continuous, or the drugs are released in a large burst in the initial stage, and poor durability of the tablet given its quick breakdown. These methods are also only able to fabricate tablets that release drugs with a limited type of profiles. Read more