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3D printed absorber could reduce toxic side effects of chemotherapy

The tiny 3D printed structure is capable of absorbing excess chemotherapy drugs in the body

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A joint team of researchers from American universities has developed a 3D printed device that is capable of absorbing excess chemotherapy drugs from a patient’s body. The novel device could make chemotherapy treatments more effective while reducing the negative side effects of the harsh drugs on cancer patients.

Though an effective treatment for killing cancer cells, chemotherapy also takes a toll on the body’s healthy cells, causing a range of side effects, including hair loss and nausea. Doxorubicin, one of the drugs used in chemotherapy treatments, can even cause heart failure and other serious side effects if used in too high of a dosage.

Wanting to find a solution to the downsides of chemotherapy, researchers Nitash Balsara, Steven Hetts, Joseph DeSimone and Hee Jeung Oh decided to explore the possibility of creating a device which could absorb and filter out Doxorubicin from the body in areas not affected by cancer.

3D printed absorber chemotherapy

Now, as presented in the journal ACS Central Science, the researchers have succeeded in creating such a device, thanks in part to 3D printing technologies. The device, in short, is made up of a tiny cylinder structure 3D printed out of poly(ehtylene glycol) diacrylate. Inside the structure is a square lattice structure coated in a special copolymer coating that binds to doxorubicin. The device is designed to let blood cells pass through it while catching the doxorubicin inside it.

“Despite efforts to develop increasingly targeted and personalized cancer therapeutics, dosing of drugs in cancer chemotherapy is limited by systemic toxic side effects,” the researchers write in their study. “We have designed, built, and deployed porous absorbers for capturing chemotherapy drugs from the bloodstream after these drugs have had their effect on a tumor, but before they are released into the body where they can cause hazardous side effects.

To test the absorbers, the researchers inserted the tiny 3D printed devices into the veins of pigs, followed by an injection of doxorubicin into the same vein. The researchers then compared the doxorubicin concentration in the vein before it encountered the absorber device and after and found that the 3D printed cylinder captured about 64% of the drug from the bloodstream.

The ability to absorb excess chemotherapy drugs before they spread into healthy parts of the body could be game-changing for cancer treatment and could pave the way for less taxing and compromising chemotherapy treatment. The researchers also say their device could enable higher doses of doxorubicin to kill cancer cells more effectively without the toxic side effects.

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Tess Boissonneault

Tess Boissonneault is a Montreal-based content writer and editor with five years of experience covering the additive manufacturing world. She has a particular interest in amplifying the voices of women working within the industry and is an avid follower of the ever-evolving AM sector. Tess holds a master's degree in Media Studies from the University of Amsterdam.

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