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Looking to the Future: 3D Printing Drug Development

DateTime: 2018-05-11
浏览次数: 45

Recently, University College London published an article outlining the role of 3D printing in drug development and how it can radically alter the manufacturing process.

In essence, the pharmaceutical industry is conservative and resists change. When people consider the large amount of R&D costs needed to transfer new drugs from discovery to clinics, this economic pressure has inspired people to avoid risk. This burden of drug development means that many traditional practices that have been implemented for many years will change, such as drug manufacturing, which has not been developed since its inception. Although these processes are optimized for cost effectiveness, they are not flexible and are not necessarily compatible with the future of drug development or clinical care. Recent advances in technology have the potential to radically change the way pharmaceuticals are produced and managed, with implications for the pharmaceutical industry, nursing staff and patients.

The most cutting-edge innovation in this breakthrough is called 3D printing (3DP). This technology allows the manufacture of three-dimensional objects of almost any size and shape on demand. Different types of 3D printers each perform tasks through different mechanisms and have different tradeoffs in speed, resolution, and integrity. 3D printing has been used to make simple and complex objects from children's toys to car bodies. The potential of 3D printing in the pharmaceutical industry is the rapid, flexible, on-demand production of small batches of drugs. This may include the dose, physical properties, and flexibility of the drug delivery curve, effectively shifting from a "one size fits all" approach to a new world of personalized medicine.

An article published by the University of London School of Pharmacy outlines the in-depth study of the possibility of integrating 3D printing into the pharmaceutical manufacturing process. This paper was published in a recent issue of “Pharmacology Trends,” which provides examples of adopting this new technology and overcoming numerous challenges. The authors are particularly concerned with the advantages of this approach in two main areas: early drug development and patient application.

Early drug development

The early stages of drug development are critical to determine whether the molecule has an acceptable level of toxicity for therapeutic potential. The failure rate at this stage is high, so companies can identify candidate molecules as quickly and cost-effectively as possible. Although computational tools play an important role in screening, potential drugs must enter clinical trials through preclinical experiments that are often performed on model organisms. Some studies involved testing different formulations and doses to determine their effectiveness. 3D printing simplifies this process by providing rapid and flexible methods for producing small batches of drugs with different compositions. These practices are not well supported under the current manufacturing conditions, which slows down the research process and requires significant investment of resources.

Patient application

The practice of medicine is moving in a personal direction. With our advancement in the understanding of molecular biology and genetics, there is now the potential for individual-specific therapies to achieve maximum benefits and minimal side effects. 3D printing can help realize this potential, making it possible to produce tailor-made drugs that fit individual genetic characteristics, disease status, gender, age, weight, and other characteristics. 3D printing can also be used to create complex pharmaceutical tablets with unique properties. The geometric shape and spatial distribution of these tablets can affect how they are metabolized and distributed in the human body, adding a new dimension to personalization. Finally, children and the elderly usually need specific doses of medicine. Due to the inflexibility of current production, many people have taken crushed or splittable tablets to achieve the desired dose. This has some degree of uncertainty, but this uncertainty can be eliminated by using 3D printing.

Looking to the Future: 3D Printing Drug Development

Although the potential for 3D printing in drug development and patient management is indeed high, the road to integrating this technology is full of major challenges. Not surprisingly, most of them involve regulations and safety. The current quality control in the pharmaceutical manufacturing industry is very thorough and detailed. Ethicists worry that the same level of supervision cannot be applied to 3D printing. In addition, if there is a difference between printers, standardization can be difficult. Clearly, the ideal 3D printing technology for drug development has not yet been invented, but with the recent FDA approval of the first batch of 3D printed tablets, the technology will certainly be used for drug manufacturing in the future.

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