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3D printing creates precise medication doses for ill kids

  • 2 Min To Read
  • 7 months ago

Researchers at Texas A&M University are working on a new method of pharmaceutical 3D printing that could make it easier for children to take their medicine. The researchers aim to print precisely dosed tablets in child-friendly shapes and flavors. Although the initial focus is on two drugs for pediatric AIDS, the process could be extended to print other medicines, including those for adults.

Similar 3D-printed medication projects are also underway in Britain, Australia, and the University of Texas at Austin. This development aligns with the broader pursuit of "personalized medicine" where treatments are tailored to each patient's unique needs.

The current mass production of drugs fails to address the needs of pediatric patients, who often require different dosages and combinations of medicines as they grow. As a result, adult tablets are often crushed and dissolved in liquid, known as compounding, to be given to children. However, this method can compromise the accuracy of the dosage and the quality of the drug.

The lack of equipment in most pharmacies to test compounded drug quality and the unpleasant taste of liquified drugs due to the ground pill coating further complicate the issue.

The Texas A&M team is using a solvent-free method of 3D printing. They create a powder mixture of the drug, a biocompatible polymer, and a pigment that colors the tablet and allows heat absorption. Flavoring can also be added. The mixture is then heated in the printer chamber and finished with precise applications of laser heat. The researchers have successfully printed tablets that maintain their structure and do not become soggy.

The team is now experimenting with different laser scan speeds to determine their impact on the tablet's structure and the rate at which drugs dissolve. Slowing down the laser imparts more energy, strengthening the tablet structure and prolonging the release of drugs inside the body.

The researchers hope to develop machine learning models to test different laser speed combinations and potentially create tablets with different dissolve rates.

This development could benefit not only pediatric patients but also older individuals who take multiple medications daily. The ability to print personalized tablets at local pharmacies could revolutionize the way medications are prescribed and administered.

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