Is 3D Printing Technology the Future of Customized Medicine?
In just about a decade, 3D printing has grown from an industry full of what-ifs to an industry full of possibilities instead. The technology is now being used to help the field of medicine, and a notable way is through 3D printed medicines.
3D printing has now reached a point where making medicines is a possibility, and the next breakthrough can lead to more accessible and customizable drug treatments, even though it won’t completely replace the traditional methods of making drugs.
In 2020, we saw 3D printing playing a major role in the fight against the pandemic, there’s been a breakthrough when it comes to 3D printing medicine too. And even though printing tablet medicines has been done before, there is still potential and the possibility of advancement on this.
And now, as we have entered a new decade, we can look forward to personalized medicine. And even though there is still a lot to be done to prove that the 3D printed medicine is truly safe, we believe that it will deliver high-quality health care.
Advancements in technology
3D printing works by building successive layers of raw material like plastics or metals. And since the objects are designed in computer-aided design software, the makers have an easier time making changes to the product when needed.
Thanks to advancements in 3D printing software, the technology can now produce more advanced products through new methods such as bioprinting. These advancements have also led to the development of medicines made with 3D printing technology.
The first, and so far, only approved 3D printed medicine for sale is Spritam, which is a treatment to control seizures caused by epilepsy. In the UK, there are on-going clinical trials where thousands of children take 3D printed medicines in order to find more accessible and customizable ways to treat rare diseases.
How it works
As explained on bestessays.com, 3D printed medicines are made when a printer spreads down thin layers of powdered form of medication, and tiny drops of a water-based fluid aid in combining these layers to a great microscopic point.
This method allows for more active medication to be present in the tablet than standard manufacturing. 3D printed medicine can be customized and made in different shapes and sizes. Due to their customizability, these medicines have benefits that the usual medicines do not.
For example, 3D printed medications have porous layers so they can dissolve much quicker on the tongue. It makes it so much easier for patients to consume higher doses. They also can be made into a polypill. The polypill is a single pill that can contain multiple drugs that the patient has to take.
3D printing technology can streamline the production of common medicines, but there are other uses as well. 3D printed medications can be customized in small batches to treat rare and hard to cure diseases.
The ZipDose 3D printing technology, a patented method from Aprecia and Cycle Pharmaceuticals, can help simplify and ease the medication schedule for patients with chronic conditions, as it produces specified medications at a quick and efficient pace.
Spritam, the first approved 3d printed medicine by FDA. Image source: smithsonianmag.
3D printing could also bring forth the idea of medicine tailored specifically to work for specific genomes on the body. And as 3D printers are becoming more widely available, it is not that hard to imagine printers located in pharmacies and hospitals, where they would print specific medicines for anyone's needs.
3D printing to help fight COVID-19
COVID-19 has stopped the world both literally and figuratively, and amongst many, the pandemic has changed the way we look at medicine, where 3D printing is playing a major role in improving the fight against it. HP backed the researchers in Europe and America with its high-potential D300e BioPrinter.
The bioprinter is currently used by scientists to develop new medications, treatments, and even vaccines for COVID-19, as well as helping with manufacturing and distributing medicine. All that is needed for a printer to produce medicine is the computer file and the correct materials. Just those two factors could help eliminate the need to be overly reliant on vulnerable supply chains.
Looking to the future
Like with any new technology, the future of 3D printing medicine has its possibilities as well as uncertainties. 3D printing could make it easier for patients to get access to more specialized medicines quicker, and pharmacies could make life-saving drugs on the spot instead of waiting for them to arrive from a manufacturer.
But as of now, the technology is not yet at the point where medicines can be mass-produced through 3D printing. For example, GlaxoSmithKline's traditional manufacturing method allows them to produce up to 1.6 million tablets per hour.
Meanwhile, 3D printers used to make medicines in clinical trials in the UK can only make tens of thousands of tablets a day. There is also the possibility that 3D printing can be used to make unsafe and counterfeit medicines.
There is potential for 3D printing in the field of medicine. The fact that medicines can be made with a 3D printer is already a step in the right direction, and many people could benefit from this. But like with any technology, there is the risk of abuse, which is why 3D printed pharmaceuticals should be studied and treated properly. If done right, this technology can change so many lives for the better.
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About the Author
Justin Osborne is a writer at thesis writing service, he loves to share his thoughts and opinions about education, writing, and blogging with other people on different blogs and forums. Currently, he is working as a content marketer at bestessays.com.