SINGAPORE – A team of researchers from the National University of Singapore (NUS) has found a way to make cheaper and easily personalized medicine. This is done my combining many pills in one, take medicine once a day where it ends up being released slowly, tailored on patient’s needs.
The new method of making tablets has been designed by Associate Professor Soh Siow Ling and Sun Yajuan PhD student, Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, Faculty of Engineering. The new system can make customizable pills that release drugs with desired release profiles.
Certain chemicals, such as hormones, may have to be released in pulses at regular intervals in synchronism with the biological cycles of the human body. In other situations, higher doses at first and subsequently lower doses are required to maintain the effect.
While there are some existing production methods, such as 3D printing, which can allow for some flexibility, they have their limitations. These include low dose, continuous, or drugs which are released in a huge explosion at the beginning, and have little durability given the rapid decomposition of the tablet. These methods also are only capable of making controlled release drugs with a limited type of profiles.
“For a long time, custom pills have been a mere concept because they were too complex or expensive to accomplish. This new manufacturing method is technically simple, relatively inexpensive and versatile. It can be applied individually, so that doctors produce customized event for patients, or in mass production, “says Soh, in the press release from the university.
Instead of manufacturing the printed layer by layer tablet, the tablet designed by Sun Soh and comprises three separate components including a polymer containing the drug, specifically designed to determine the release rate of the drug. For example, a form of 5 points allows the drug to be released in five separate pulses.
The doctor only needs to draw the desired release profile in computer software to generate a template to make specific for the treatment of a patient, which can then be used to easily produce the desired pills using a 3D printer.
The system is easy to use and does not involve any complex mathematical calculations to create a new release profile. It is completely customizable and is able to create any printable pills release profile template.
Since the method uses a commercially available 3D printer, also it makes it a relatively cheap way to carry out personalized medicine to reality, compared to other methods, such as photolithography.
In the administration of drugs, it is also often important to administer more than one type of drug simultaneously to treat a disease. The manufacturing method developed by Soh can be modified to include various types of charged drugs within the same tablet; and most importantly, each drug can be customized to free themselves at different rates, even within the same pill.