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University of Nottingham: 3D printing enables personalized medicines

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

The tablets can be printed using multi-material inkjet 3D printing technology (MM-IJ3DP) to release drugs at a controlled rate. This is made possible by a novel ink formulation based on UV light-sensitive molecules. When printed, these molecules form a water-soluble structure that controls the release rate of the drug.

Dr. Yinfeng He, Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Engineering’s Centre for Additive Manufacturing led the research, he said, “This is an exciting step forwards in the development of personalized medication. This breakthrough not only highlights the potential of 3D printing in revolutionizing drug delivery but also opens up new avenues for the development of next-generation personalized medicines.”

Despite the promising progress, there are challenges, such as the need for more formulations that support a wider range of materials.

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

This technology is particularly beneficial for drugs that need to release active ingredients at specific times, ideal for the treatment of diseases where timing and dosing accuracy are critical. The ability to print 56 pills in a single run demonstrates the scalability of this technology and offers strong potential for the production of personalized medicines.

Professor Felicity Rose at the University of Nottingham‘s School of Pharmacy was one of the co-authors on the research, she says, “The future of prescribed medication lies in a personalized approach, and we know that up 50% of people in the UK alone don’t take their medicines correctly and this has an impact on poorer health outcomes with conditions not being controlled or properly treated. A single pill approach would simplify taking multiple medications at different times and this research is an exciting step towards that.”

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