Additive manufacturing of “polypill” capsules of complex geometry with individualised release

A Presentation by Beatriz Pereira, Scientist, University of Central Lancashire

Polypharmacy is often needed for the management of chronic conditions and is usually associated with poor patient adherence. Therefore, easily personalised systems are necessary to accommodate complex therapeutic regimens.

A novel design approach was developed to fabricate highly modular 3D printed ‘polypill’ capsules with individualised release profile for multiple drugs.

The modular capsule systems were manufactured using fused deposition modelling 3D printing aligned with hot-filling syringes. Two unibody capsule structures with 4 separate compartments were designed: i) concentric format: two external compartments for early release whilst two inner compartments for delayed release, or ii) parallel format: where non-dissolving capsule shells with free-pass corridors and dissolution rate-limiting pores were used to achieve immediate and extended drug releases, respectively.

Drug release of the polypill was controlled through digital manipulation of the shell thickness in the concentric format, and the size of the rate limiting pores in the parallel format. The high flexibility of the systems was confirmed by achieving different target drug release profiles with drug molecules of different characteristics. To project the clinical implication of the developed bespoke capsules, a simulation absorption model was developed to study the effect of drug dissolution in drug pharmacokinetics.

Interview with the speaker

Question 1: What drives you?
Working with an emerging technology that can have such a positive impact in patients’ lives, by providing treatment that fits each patient needs.

Question 2: Why should the delegate attend your presentation?
I will present how 3D printing can provide personalised drug delivery in the context of complex therapeutic regimens.

Question 3: What emerging technologies/trends do you see as having the greatest potential in the short and long run?
We are in the era of digitalisation and personalised medicine, and we’ve seen the benefits of 3D printing, molecular diagnostics and healthcare trackers individually and in the short term. In the long run, the implementation of such technologies collaboratively and part of the healthcare system will magnify their benefits.

Question 4: What kind of impact do you expect them to have?
Optimisation of the delivery of medicines and patients with better quality of life.

Question 5: What are the barriers that might stand in the way?
As expected from a innovative approach, there have been challenges concerning regulatory guidance, suitability of the available equipment and acceptance. However, efforts are being made to overcome these.

Beatriz Pereira will speak at the conference.

Watch the interview with her on youtube

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