3D printing: Medicines are almost a reality

Medicine-as-a-service is already a trend in Northern Europe.

The pharmaceutical industry is closely linked to mass production. In order for medicines to be sold cheaply, they often have to be produced in large quantities. But what happens if you need a drug in a different dose than is sold? Or is a different ingredient in the mix than what is offered? Although a kind of personalised medicine already exists, its batches are strictly small, as compounding (the manual preparation of individualised drug treatments) is difficult, time-consuming and lacks quality control. But now Helsinki-based start-up CurifyLabs is automating the process, bringing 3D printing of medicines to hospitals and veterinary facilities.

CurifyLabs was founded last year and has since raised EUR 3.5 million in funding. Under the claim of Medicine-as-a-Service, the company is already gaining some media attention in northern Europe. The idea is to safely create drugs that meet a patient’s needs and can adapt to physiology, species, and any allergies. The drugs can be moulded in different forms to facilitate swallowing by animals and children or with varying release rates. In addition, the process reduces the possibility of error in compounding. All drugs maintain pharmaceutical-grade material quality, composition and shelf life. If its initial work is successful, Curifylabs could change how we treat diseases, with drugs ordered and custom-made directly from pharmacies or small manufacturers to avoid waste and try to reduce unwanted effects.

3D Printing

Recently, healthcare company Triastek received approval for its Investigational New Drug (IND) application from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to start clinical trials on 3D-printed medicine. The starting point is T21, a treatment for ulcerative colitis. “We are excited to receive IND clearance to begin clinical trials of this potentially transformative treatment for patients,” said Dr Senping Cheng, founder and CEO of Triastek. “Delaying drug delivery and administration of oral dosage forms to the colon is challenging, so T21 offers a promising new option for patients by providing site-specific drug delivery and localised drug effect, mitigating the potential side effects of systemic exposure. We look forward to advancing this treatment in the clinic and appreciate the FDA’s support”.

Antonino Caffo has been involved in journalism, particularly technology, for fifteen years. He is interested in topics related to the world of IT security but also consumer electronics. Antonino writes for the most important Italian generalist and trade publications. You can see him, sometimes, on television explaining how technology works, which is not as trivial for everyone as it seems.