3D printed ‘tailor-made’ personalised pills
Medicines with specific parameters produced by traditional methods are in many cases unable to meet the individual needs of patients. In fact, traditional medicines are often based on adult doses, while pediatric and geriatric patients require doses tailored to their age. What’s more, certain patient groups also require specific dosage form alternatives that make the drug easier to take orally. Fast-disintegrating tablets are becoming a good option in this regard, as they dissolve as soon as they are placed on the tongue. Another challenge that pharmaceutical companies need to address is controlling drug release over time.
3D printing is a technique for printing products layer by layer, in which materials are deposited layer by layer according to a digital model designed by computer design software. Using a quick, simple method and with the help of 3D printing, the researchers prepared tablets based on 3 starches: two corn starches (regular and waxy) and one potato starch, all with different geometries and loaded with insoluble drugs.
The researchers explain that before injecting the materials used into the printer, it must be ensured that the materials are printable and that they retain their shape once printed. For this, a detailed rheological analysis must be carried out. All 3 types of starch exhibited suitable rheological properties, although in the case of potato starch, the printing process became more laborious due to its properties.
The researchers observed that the plant origin of starch is crucial in almost all properties, such as porous microstructure, formation of stable networks or release of drugs. In the case of regular cornstarch, drug release was instantaneous, with complete drug release within 10 minutes; in the case of waxy cornstarch and potato starch, the release was more continuous and could take up to 6 hours for complete release. The researchers also demonstrated the importance of tablet geometry in drug release.
The research team also printed pills that combined different types of starch. In this case, the release takes place in two stages. For example, in the case of an infection, in the initial phase of using plain cornstarch, the drug can be released immediately to relieve pain, and in the subsequent phase, using either of the other two starches, the antibiotic can be released more continuously.