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3D printing enables the production of multi-drug pills

Researchers from the University of Nottingham are paving the way for personalized pills that can deliver timed doses

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According to the University of Nottingham, a new technique for 3D printing medication has enabled the printing of multiple drugs in a single tablet – paving the way for personalized pills that can deliver timed doses.

Researchers from the University of Nottingham’s, Centre for Additive Manufacturing have led research alongside the Schools of Pharmacy and Life Sciences that has fabricated personalized medicine using Multi-Material InkJet 3D Printing (MM-IJ3DP). The research has been published in Materials Today Advances.

Using MM-IJ3DP, tablets can be printed that release drugs at a controlled rate, determined by the tablet’s design. This is made possible by a novel ink formulation based on molecules that are sensitive to ultraviolet light. When printed, these molecules form a water-soluble structure. The drug release rate is controlled by the unique interior structure of the tablet, allowing for timing the dosage release. This method can print multiple drugs in a single tablet – allowing for complex medication regimens to be simplified into a single dose.

“This is an exciting step forwards in the development of personalized medication. This breakthrough not only highlights the potential of 3D printing in revolutionizing drug delivery but also opens up new avenues for the development of next-generation personalized medicines,” said Dr. Yinfeng He, Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Engineering’s Centre for Additive Manufacturing.

“While promising, the technology faces challenges, including the need for more formulations that support a wider range of materials. The ongoing research aims to refine these aspects, enhancing the feasibility of MM-IJ3DP for widespread application,” said Professor Ricky Wildman.

This technology will be particularly beneficial in creating medication that needs to release drugs at specific times – making it ideal for treating diseases, where timing and dosage accuracy are crucial. The ability to 3D print 56 pills in a single batch demonstrates the scalability of this technology.

“The future of prescribed medication lies in a personalized approach, and we know that up to 50% of people in the UK alone don’t take their medicines correctly and this has an impact on poorer health outcomes with conditions not being controlled or properly treated. A single pill approach would simplify taking multiple medications at different times and this research is an exciting step towards that,” said Professor Felicity Rose, from the School of Pharmacy.

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Edward Wakefield

Edward is a freelance writer and additive manufacturing enthusiast looking to make AM more accessible and understandable.

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