By Staff | 3Ders
While 3-D printers have been used by hobbyists and SMEs for several years, various individuals and organisations have recently been experimenting with medical uses such as prosthetics or dental implants. But researchers from the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) in Preston in the UK are working on a revolutionary new way to deliver customized medicines on demand using 3D printing. Low cost, personalized medicines could soon be readily available thanks to 3D printer technology according to the researchers.
The UCLan team says that the revolutionary technique, which is currently undergoing a patent application, uses a 3D printer to 'print' a tablet of medicine with realistic quantities that can be taken by a patient. The printer can replicate drugs already available in pharmacies and hospitals, but more importantly can tailor medicines directly to an individual patient's needs.
Dr Mohamed Albed Alhnan from the School of Pharmacy and Biomedical Sciences alongside his team developed a drug-polymer filament system that can replace the original filaments in a 3D printer.
The team discovered that the new pharmaceutical "ink" allowed the team to print a challenging tablet design with significant improvement of appearance and high accuracy of tablet weight and dose.
Dr Mohamed Albed Alhnan said: "3-D printing has been embraced by lots of different industries but we have shown how this technology can be harnessed to improve medical care, providing low-cost, personally tailored medicines for patients.
"Thanks to this technology, the invented system can provide medical institutions with a new option and maintain dosage form properties while accurately adjusting the dose with simple software order, something that was considered before to be costly and required experienced staff and dedicated facilities. Eventually, we hope to see that units can be kept at home for patients who continuously need to change their daily dose."
This technology will potentially reduce the cost of manufacturing tablets for individual patients, while also opening the door to new options for doctors and patients in the area of personalized medicine. UCLan's project predicts the technique will be used by pharmaceutical firms and hospitals within the next five years and by the public within 10 years.
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