Israeli researchers develop technology for 3-D printing of drugs

The new technology enables the printing of personalized medications out of hydrogel objects.

November 7, 2018 18:32
2 minute read.
Researchers at Hebrew University's 3D and Functional Printing Center

Researchers at Hebrew University's 3D and Functional Printing Center. (photo credit: Courtesy)


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Researchers from Jerusalem’s Hebrew University unveiled their novel technology for three-dimensional printing of drug capsules on Wednesday, enabling the customization and personalization of medications unavailable with conventional manufacturing techniques.

Prof. Shlomo Magdassi, head of the university’s 3-D and Functional Printing Center, and Dr. Ofra Benny, a researcher at the university’s Institute for Drug Research, presented their cutting-edge technology at the second annual 3-D Printing and Beyond conference in Jerusalem, which attracted 3-D printing experts from a range of global industries.

The new technology enables the printing of personalized medications out of hydrogel objects, producing complex structures which can expand, change shape and activate on a delayed schedule. By prescribing personalized medicines, doctors will be able to accurately tailor the exposure and dosage levels for individual patients.

“We now have the technology to replace standard or traditional formulations. The population is getting older so we need to think of solutions,” said Benny.

“We can now think about combining drugs together into one drug instead of ten, to adjust the kinetics of drugs and improve patient compliance in drug administration.”

By fine-tuning the geometry, surface area and swelling index of tablets through 3-D printing, the team’s proof-of-concept prototype enables improved targeting of the site of drug release in the digestive tract as well as greater control of drug-release timing and duration.

“The technology is progressing all the time, it’s not a far-fetched dream to see mass production in the near future,” Benny added.

“Prof. Magdassi and Dr. Benny’s research is an excellent example of the kind of interdisciplinary transformational inventions that originate from the Hebrew University,” said Dr. Yaron Daniely, CEO and President of Yissum, the university’s technology transfer company.

“This technology is bringing us closer to a future in which the medical field can offer personalized, patient-centered care,” said Daniely.

The annual conference attracted industry leaders and researchers from fields with growing interest in the potential of 3-D printing, including pharmaceuticals, electronics, defense, automotive engineering and even “processed” food.

“The field of 3-D printing is really booming all over the world,” Magdassi told The Jerusalem Post. He was a co-organizer of the conference, sponsored by the Jerusalem Development Authority, Yissum and the Hebrew University.

“Israel is the capital of the field of 3-D printing, with many start-ups and established companies here. The speakers coming from abroad indicate the importance of this field to the world. We hope to establish ourselves as a hub for 3-D printing in Israel, open to all academic institutes and companies.”

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