Thanks to 3D printing, hospitals can manufacture, right there in house, medical devices that patients need, cutting down on wait times for specialty devices, as well as significantly reducing the cost. But now, these mini-factories can also 3D print drugs. One researcher is illustrating how that can happen.
From The Irish Times
|3D printing set to add mobility to medicine manufacturing|
Three-dimensional printing, which builds up layers of materials to print a product, is making its mark in the world of medical devices, opening up new ways to make implants and biocompatible scaffolds.
Using the technology to manufacture medicines is still niche, but interest is there. A 3D-printed drug has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration in the United States, and researchers are starting to prise open the potential of 3D printing low-cost equipment to build the chemicals needed for drugs.
One researcher with no shortage of ambition in this area is Prof Lee Cronin, who has combined his interests in computer programming and chemistry to come up with 3D-printable ‘kits’ that guide the synthesis of specific chemicals.
“We have developed a 3D-printed plastic mini-factory,” says Cronin, who holds the Regius chair of chemistry at the University of Glasgow. “All the containers are positioned in such way in this plastic block that when you inject chemicals they can’t do anything else but react and give you the drug you want.”
In practice, you download the digital blueprint that is specific for the chemical that you want to make, then you use a 3D printer to the make the “reactionware” and then you add all the ingredients in the prescribed order, he says – “It is a chemical version of making an Ikea chair.”
Cronin has been developing the idea for several years, and last month his lab published details in the journal Science of prototypes to make the active ingredients of different drugs.
Here’s a video report from 2015 when the first 3D printed drug was approved: