This technique allows, among other things, to combine several drugs in a single pill to make it easier to take the medication in polymedicated patients
The medicine is increasingly traversed by 3D technologies and its applications, from the development of individualized implants or prostheses, to the production of increasingly personalized medicines adapted to different patients.
In that sense, the impression of 3d drugs it can greatly facilitate the day-to-day life of people with polymedication or with few therapeutic possibilities.
Dr. Dolores Serrano, from the Dept. Pharmacy Galénica y Tecnología Alimentaria Faculty of Pharmacy Universidad Complutense de Madrid is a specialist in this technique and was recently awarded the Research Prize on Digital Health in the field of Personalized Precision Medicine awarded by the Roche Institute Foundation.
Who benefits from 3D printed drugs?
According to Serrano, the impression of 3d drugs is a system that, depending on the techniques used, basically consists of creating a single medicine with several different active ingredients, “combining different drugs within a pharmaceutical form, as if dividing a single tablet into different compartments, so that in each compartment one of the drugs that the patient needs is printed, and combining them in what is known like a polypill. ”
This technique is a great advantage for many patients. First of all, for polymedicated patients, who take several different medications and for different pathologies several times a day, “these people could take all their medication in a single tablet, which greatly facilitates adherence to treatment”, especially among older patients.
It is also an advantage for younger patients, because, as Serrano says, “there are many medicines that are not adapted for children and that children find it very difficult to take. We could, for example, print them in the form of gummies, in tablets smaller and easier to swallow… “. And it can also be useful for patients with rare diseases, who “have fewer treatment options because there is so little population. 3d printing these more special treatments could be manufactured in hospitals and made much more personalized drugs “, he says,” it would be like a type of magisterial formulation, but applied to increasingly personalized drugs. ”
3D printing of drugs can facilitate the day-to-day of people with polymedication or with few therapeutic chances
Since when have they been used?
The first 3D drug approved by the FDA was Spritam in 2015, a drug for epilepsy, and they just recently approved another for rheumatoid arthritis, Triastek. In Europe, we slow down, “the FDA it is more launched, while the EMA is more conservative, but they will soon take the step and approve it here “, he assures,” the industry begins first, but at a hospital level it will cost a little more. ”
And it is that, the objective, more than the industry applies it, something that is already beginning to do with drugs with high demand, is that this system reaches hospitals to be able to carry out more personalized treatments, “I hope that, in three or four years, it is already being done in many hospitals, but it is a complex technique and health professionals must first be trained. 3d printers There are many, but those used in hospitals have to have very good quality standards and they have to be able to be cleaned very well so that there is no contamination. This type of printer is already being built, and the first studies are already being carried out in Spain in a hospital in Santiago de Compostela, which was starting to print medicines for patients with rare diseases in the hospital. But the great challenge is the training of professionals “, he highlights.
What does not seem feasible is that this technique is applied to the way of taking drugs in general, because it is not profitable, “manufacturing drugs on a large scale is very cheap. 3D drugs are more expensive and the ideal thing is that they are made for those who are really going to benefit from them, like the groups I was telling you about before “.
Nor, as they have come to ask, if the day will come when a person with a 3D printer at home he can print his own medications, “I don’t see it, it’s very scary, because it is very complex and risky. What people are doing, for example, is sometimes printing their own transparent braces, which is capable of designing them and print them, but a drug is already different, “he warns.
Dr. Dolores Serrano works on 3D printing techniques for medicines
What will happen to the transplants?
In this increasingly popular area of the medicine, 3D printing is also almost a reality, especially in that of implants, “it is an area that is increasingly exploited and that has much more applicability, especially implants, prostheses … Customizing in this case is very profitable, because if, for example, a person is at risk of rejecting an implant, if you personalize it and avoid rejection, you will also avoid having to operate it many times, with all that it entails, “he says.
In song the impression of organs, Dolores Serrano it is much more prudent, “in the case of skin, for example, there is already a startup in Spain in which they are able to print skin with cells from the patients themselves, but the skin is few layers, it does not have blood vessels or cells neuronal, which is what makes it difficult to print tissues, functional organs … “. In other words, in order to transplant organs printed in 3D, we still have a long way to go.