3D printing isn't new or revolutionary, but the ways that companies like Laxxon Medical use it are.
The first patent for a 3D printer was granted in 1986 to Charles Hull and his company, 3D Systems Corporation. However, the first commercial 3D printer was released for sale to the general public in 1987-88.
When you imagine a 3D printer and what it can do, you likely envision 3D printing of physical items like car parts or accessories and perhaps even 3D printing of organic tissue, which has made a lot of waves in the last few years.
However, we can now 3D print medication. Not only that but we can also 3D print customized medication to specifically suit an individual patient, all while retaining the original intentions of the drug and providing a better experience for the patient.
Before we look more into the benefits of 3D printing pharmaceuticals, we need to take a closer look at the makeup of the pills we take and how they work.
How Do Pills Work?
Whenever you swallow any tablet, it will dissolve in your stomach and intestines at a predetermined rate. However, different pills are designed to dissolve at different rates depending on what type of pill you're taking and for what reason.
Once the pill has been ingested, the ingredients can begin to circulate throughout your body (Pharmacokinetics Absorption), making their way to your organs and tissues. Drug molecules work by binding to different receptors on cells which trigger a specific response (Pharmacokinetics Distribution).
Not all pills dissolve at the same rate. It's one of the reasons why when you take any medication, the pharmacist will print instructions about when to take them, before or after food, in the morning, evening, or multiple times per day.
There are a few reasons for this. Firstly, so that you get the full benefits of the medication throughout the day or night, and secondly, so you don't damage your stomach or its lining by taking too much medication all at once.
Regardless of this, taking medications often comes with unwanted side effects. While these side effects don't affect everyone or affect them in the same way, wouldn't it be better if you could eliminate some or all of them?
How Are 3D Printed Drugs Different?
Why would 3D-printed drugs be any different than the same ones most of us take every day? It's the ability to customize that makes them so unique.
3D printing of pills can be done with complicated structures, which will allow for custom release rates and even printing pills on demand to make dosages more patient-specific.
3D printing can print complicated structures which will promote drug absorption or a reduction in negative side-effects from drug reactions.
Laxxon Medical's patented 3D screen printing technology (SPID® Technology) allows for the heterogeneous distribution of active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) in any tablet or pill.
“Heterogeneous distribution means that within our tablets, we are able to control not only the amount and type of API or substance which is released but also the time at which this substance is distributed in the body. One particularly interesting element of heterogeneous distribution is the sequential release of actives. For example, if a tablet contains more than one API, we can control different release times per API based on the highly complex printed structures of our tablets. This is only possible through 3D screen printing.” – Klaus Kühne, Laxxon Medical COO.
For patients, heterogeneous distribution and sequential release provide several clinical benefits. These include longer-lasting effects, reduced side effects, and fewer dosages.
To learn more about the 3-Dimensional Screen Printing of Pharmaceuticals, check out our full article on 3D Screen Printing here.
Although the implementation of 3D drugs is still in its infancy, the technology behind it is coming along in leaps and bounds, and it won't be long before the option for custom pharmaceuticals is widespread.
Rather than everyone getting the same pill, regardless of the side effects, you'll be able to get customized medication that suits not only your condition but also your body and how it processes medication.
Thanks to 3D-printed pharmaceuticals, the future is looking very bright indeed.
Laxxon Medical is dedicated to engineering patented 3D pharmaceutical solutions which optimize products and benefit patients. Our goal is to establish SPID®-Technology as a manufacturing process that has the individual and the pharmaceutical partner in mind.