It’s possible that personalised and bespoke pills could soon be created to treat a wide range of diseases, everything from cancer to statins, thanks to a new breakthrough in 3D printing that will see a printer installed in the pharmacy at Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital in London.
It means that pills could potentially be printed while patients wait, making it far easier and more efficient to access the treatments they need, iNews reports. It would also mean that doses could be tailored to suit the individual, with various types of medication combined in just one pill.
Currently, it is rare to find tailored dosages in a single pill, because this kind of medication needs to be produced by hand, which is a lengthier process. As a result, the majority of people have to take one-size-fits-all pills.
In fact, according to an NHS white paper on personalised medicine, up to 70 per cent of medicines currently being given to patients are ineffective, largely because they come in suboptimal doses.
But a new printing technique has now been developed by researchers at University College London that can print pills in three seconds each. While it takes around three minutes to print with current printing methods, the team are confident that they can reduce the time taken to under a second.
It’s even possible that the technology could be extended to home use, where patients could potentially print their own pills themselves.
Speaking to the news source, UCL scientist Alvaro Goyanes explained that personalised 3D printing of medication is now evolving “ at a rapid pace”, starting to undergo clinical trials even now. And it’s possible that they could start reaching health services in three to five years.
Steve Tomlin, chief pharmacist with Great Ormond Street, made further comments, telling the news source: “[Imagine a future where] every home will have a 3D printer and if you need a medicine you will be given the polymer including the drug ingredient you need.”
“Your computer will look at your weight, pharmacogenomics etc and the printer will calculate the exact amount of the drug that is needed for you and print it out.”
There are a range of different benefits associated with 3D printing medication. As well as being able to tailor and personalise doses, pill shape and size can also be created in a bespoke way, while flavours can also be incorporated to hide any kind of chemical taste, without having to dress pills in a film coating.