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Researchers Develop New Tech That Prints Custom-Dosed Medications

It can print multiple doses of different drugs into one single dose

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Ever wish there’s just a machine that could print out that very specific dose and combination of medications your doctor prescribed you, instead of finding it yourself and paying extra for it? Well, there’s now a machine that does just that.

This machine, developed in the University of Michigan, can print pure and ultra-precise doses of drugs on a lot of different surfaces, like dissolvable strips, microneedle patches, etc. It can also combine different doses of different drugs onto a single medium, allowing patients to take several medications in just one pop of a pill.

The invention was part of a study led by Max Shtein, professor of materials science and engineering, and Olga Shalev, a doctoral student working in the same department. “A doctor or pharmacist can choose any number of medications, which the machine would combine into a single dose,” explains Shtein. “The machine could be sitting in the back of the pharmacy or even in a clinic.”

Source: YouTube, Michigan Engineering

The single, pure, dose of drugs printed by the machine is so strong that it can kill cultured cancer cells just as effectively as traditional medication.

The machine was made in collaboration with the Michigan Engineering departments of chemical engineering and biomedical engineering, as well as the College of Pharmacy and the Department of Physics in the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts.

It is based off of vapor-jet printing, which allows it to print drugs on a very fine crystalline structure over a large surface area, which makes it easier for patients’ bodies to dissolve the medication. This opens the doors to new kinds of potential drugs that aren’t that effective when administered through traditional means, like pills and capsules.

“Pharma companies have libraries of millions of compounds to evaluate, and one of the first tests is solubility,” says Shtein. “About half of new compounds fail this test and are ruled out. Organic vapor jet printing could make some of them more soluble, putting them back into the pipeline.”

Source: University of Michigan. This microscopy image shows the crystal structure of ibuprofen, printed onto a silicon film using organic vapor jet printing. By Max Shtein

This machine will also help speed up the process of creating new medications.

“One of the major challenges facing pharmaceutical companies is speed to clinical testing in humans,” said Gregory Amidon, a research professor in the U-M College of Pharmacy and an author on the paper. “This technology offers up a new approach to accelerate the evaluation of new medicines.”

The team is currently working on other possible applications of the technology, as well as collaborating with pharmaceutical experts. They hope that one day the machine can be scaled to mass production.


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University of Michigan

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