3D printing is allowing researchers to make enormous impacts in the medical field with a spectacular new array of diagnostic devices, implants, models, and more. With the ability to make so many items that are patient-specific, however, the future of treatment for individuals suffering from conditions from mild to severe is being transformed in ways that no one ever expected.
3D printed medical models are a great example of a way that patient-specific care can be offered. Other devices and implants can be 3D printed to the exact specifications of patients too. And as we have seen in the past few years, medicine may be following suit as well—3D printed and offered in patient-specific dosages that are easy to administer.
Authors Fabrizio Fina, Christine M. Madla, Alvaro Goyanes, Jiaxin Zhang, Simon Gaisford, and Abdul W. Basit explain their recent findings in ‘Fabricating 3D printed orally disintegrating printlets using selective laser sintering,’ published in the International Journal of Pharmaceutics.
This is not the first 3D printed pill we have seen (check out more on 3D printed seizure pills and comprehensive meds); however, this study from the Department of Pharmaceutics, UCL School of Pharmacy, University College London in collaboration with FabRx Ltd. focuses on how SLS printing can assist in creating unique dosages. FabRx has been looking into 3D printing for pill production, including work with FFF and SLA technologies, starting with SLS last year.
The benefits of SLS printing are enjoyed by engineers and designer around the world due to better accuracy with complex designs, easier creation of larger and more complicated prototypes, and faster low-volume production. For the purpose of creating 3D printed medications, the researchers found that SLS printing was “amenable to the pharmaceutical research of modern medicine manufacture.”
The goal of the study was not only to explore the effectiveness of the SLS 3D printer in fabricating such medications, but also to 3D print them in new types of solid dosages, and with accelerated drug release. Along with that, they created a new formula for pills that disintegrate orally—and more rapidly. Referring to this medication as Printlets, the researchers relied on the following polymers:
- Hydroxypropyl methylcellulose (HPMC E5)
- Vinylpyrrolidone-vinyl acetatecopolymer (KollidonVA 64)
Both materials were mixed separately with 5% paracetamol and 3% Candurin Gold Sheen colorant, ultimately allowing for the Printlets to be made via SLS.
“Modulating the SLS printing parameters altered the release characteristics of the printlets, with faster laser scanning speeds accelerating drug release from the HPMC formulations,” state the researchers in their paper. “The same trend was observed for the Kollidon based printlets. At a laser scanning speed of 300 mm/s, the Kollidon printlets exhibited orally disintegrating characteristics by completely dispersing in <4 s in a small volume of water.”
In analyzing the Printlets with a micro-CT scan, the researchers were pleased to find that this method of fabrication did allow for increased porosity, and the better disintegration sought after.
“The work reported here is the first to demonstrate the feasibility of SLS 3DP to fabricate printlets with accelerated drug release and orally disintegrating properties,” concluded the researchers.
See the video below to understand more about how the Printlets are fabricated via SLS printing.
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