FabRx and UCL Recruiting for a PhD Student on 3D Printing and Digital Health
Are you interested in doing a PhD on digital health, 3D printing and pharmaceutical technologies? Are you on for a 1st or 2:1 in pharmacy, pharmacology, chemical engineering or a related subject? UCL School of Pharmacy and FabRx are recruiting a PhD student for an exciting 4 year project, fully funded by the EPSRC.
Around the world, narrow therapeutic index (NTI) drugs are used to treat a wide range of conditions, including microbial infections, epilepsy and coagulation disorders. However, these NTI drugs require regular therapeutic drug monitoring (TDM) and dose titrations, involving processes which are highly invasive (requiring the frequent withdrawal of blood samples) and expensive, costing the NHS over £136 million annually. To reduce the burden on healthcare services and to improve patient outcomes, a new method of point-of-care monitoring and drug dosing is required. As such, this project aims to engineer a non-invasive platform for real-time monitoring and personalised dosing of NTI drugs using three-dimensional printing. The project will be split into two parts: Part 1) development of a portable device for the rapid evaluation of drug levels in non-invasive biological fluids (e.g. saliva or urine) for use at the point-of-care and; Part 2) Development of personalised 3D printed dosage forms containing therapeutic drug dosages based on the clinical feedback from the portable device developed in Part 1. Via the intersection of these two cutting edge technologies, the management of NTI drugs will in the future be revolutionised, reducing healthcare spends and improving treatment outcomes.
FabRx has successfully been awarded funding from Innovate UK, the UK’s innovation agency, to develop the world’s first 3D printer for the production of personalised medicines. The industrial research project, totalling over £600,000, will be led by FabRx in collaboration with Katjes UK – Magic Candy Factory, an award-winning 3D printing tech start-up who specialise in 3D printing of confectionary products.
This project seeks to develop a 3D printer which is safe and ‘fit-for-purpose’ for the production of printed tablets (“printlets”) in a hospital pharmacy setting, adhering to regulatory and clinical guidelines. A major limitation of currently available medicines is that there are a limited number of strengths and sizes, which often lead to inaccurate dosing and care for patients. This is especially common in children as the current medications available are not easily adaptable or “fit for purpose” for their size and conditions. In addition, patients with certain conditions also can suffer from significant problems swallowing large hard tablets.
This new development in 3D printed medicine will seek to resolve these issues, enabling dosing to be more accurately controlled with each dose being produced on demand specifically for each individual patient and their needs. 3D printing technology can enable each printlet to have an highly precise dose and even allows for the possibility of medications to be combined in a single printlet to make regimes of care easier for both doctors and patients to adhere to, thus resulting in better recovery rates and quality of life.
These new concept medications will also have the option to come in personalised flavours and shapes to add more enjoyment to the process and encourage young children to take their medications more easily and regularly. Katjes UK – Magic Candy Factory and FabRx will use a patented soft vegan gummy gel formula to encapsulate the medications and 3D print their ‘printlets’, which will make it much easier and more enjoyable for patients of all ages.
Alvaro Goyanes of FabRx said “FabRx is delighted to receive this award which follows many years of underpinning research into 3D printing of medicines. We are excited to work with the Magic Candy Factory, the world’s leading manufacturer of 3D printed food products, to bring 3D printing of medicines a significant step closer to the market”.
Background on FabRx
Founded in 2014 by academics from University College London, FabRx has develop printed medicines and drug-loaded medical devices. The rapidly growing biotech business has a strong belief in the potential of 3D printers to revolutionise the way medicines are manufactured. They have been working at the Advanced 3D Printing Lab at UCL conducting research surrounding 3D printed medicines for more than 5 years and have more than 27 scientific articles published and 3 patent applications.
Background on Katjes UK– Magic Candy Factory
Since launching their first 3D printer for candy just over 2 years ago, Katjes UK – Magic Candy Factory have already set an unprecedented standard for customisation in the confectionary industry. They have now installed their magical machines in retail outlets across Europe, the USA, the UAE, New Zealand, Australia and China. They also 3D print custom made logos and selfies in candy for large corporate functions and private parties all over the world. All their candy prints in just 5 minutes making their 3D printer the fastest in the world, and all their ingredients are vegan, allergen free and Halal and Kosher friendly, meaning they can be enjoyed by almost anyone.
Background on Innovate UK
Innovate UK is passionate about funding businesses and research collaborations to help accelerate innovation and realise the potential of new ideas which makes personalised 3D printed medicine the perfect investment for them. FabRx are currently conducting clinical studies in hospitals in Spain using the Katjes UK – Magic Candy Factory model, and with the significant grant from Innovate UK, their extensive research and testing will become a much faster and optimised process. All parties are incredibly excited to embark on this innovative journey together and make the future of medicine 3D!
Calling all Hospital Pharmacists and Pharmacy Technicians!
FabRx are running a free interactive 3D printing workshop at UCL School of Pharmacy on 13th February 2019 at 6pm-8:30pm, where you can learn all about the state-of-the-art on 3D printing, see some of our 3D printers in action and even print your own medicines!
Sarah Trenfield, FabRx’s Director of Innovation, will be presenting about ‘3D Printed Medicines – A Digital Pharmacy Era’ in a talk at the Med-Tech Innovation Expo 2019. Held in Birmingham UK, the congress brings together key opinion leaders and researchers in the field of digital health and innovation to share their research and collaborate on new ideas.
Don’t miss out on hearing about our exciting 3D printing technologies and how they will revolutionise the way in which patients are treated. The presentation is scheduled to take place on the HealthTech stage at 11:50 on Thursday 16th May 2019 (Day two of the conference).
If you would like any further details about the presentation, please contact email@example.com
Two co-founders of FabRx and leading UCL academics, Professor Abdul Basit and Professor Simon Gaisford, have brought together the world-leading experts to author their book on 3D printing in the pharmaceutical field. FabRx staff were invited to author several chapters, including Sarah Trenfield (Director of Innovation) and Alvaro Goyanes (Co-founder and Technical Director), with an aim to provide extensive information on an array of 3D printing techniques and their applications in clinical pharmacy practice.
Book summary: 3D printing is forecast to revolutionise the pharmaceutical sector, changing the face of medicine development, manufacture and use. Potential applications range from pre-clinical drug development and dosage form design through to the fabrication of functionalised implants and regenerative medicine. Within clinical pharmacy practice, printing technologies may finally lead to the concept of personalised medicines becoming a reality. This volume aims to be the definitive resource for anyone thinking of developing or using 3D printing technologies in the pharmaceutical sector, with a strong focus on the translation of printing technologies to a clinical setting. Current printing technologies and their state-of-the-art applications in the pharmaceutical manufacturing supply chain have been reviewed, as well as the discussion of modern drug product manufacture from a regulatory perspective. This book is a highly valuable resource for a range of demographics, including academic researchers and the pharmaceutical industry, providing a comprehensive inventory detailing the current and future applications of 3D printing in pharmaceuticals.
FabRx’s co-founders, Professor Abdul Basit and Professor Simon Gaisford, have successfully been awarded an Interdisciplinary Research Collaboration (IRC) grant by EPSRC worth over £10 million to improve therapies of hard-to-treat cancers. The collaboration, led by Cambridge University and involving University College London (UCL), Imperial, Birmingham and Glasgow Universities aims to develop an array of new technologies to improve survival rates for hard-to-treat cancers.
Professor George Malliaras, who leads the IRC, said “Some cancers are difficult to remove by surgery and highly invasive, and they are also hard to treat because drugs often cannot reach them at high enough concentration”. In particular, he said, “Pancreatic tumour cells are protected by dense stromal tissue, and tumours of the central nervous system by the blood-brain barrier”. The team hopes to assess and develop a range of new technologies to deliver drugs in high enough concentrations to kill cancer cells. Cancer scientists and clinicians from the Cancer Research UK Cambridge Centre and partner sites will carry out clinical trials. The UCL team will focus on manufacturing technologies to ensure the novel devices are able to be manufactured and robust enough to withstand surgical manipulation.
Prof Gaisford said “Our expertise and world-leading experience in designing and manufacturing pharmaceutical products with 3D printing means we are ideally equipped to scale-up and manufacture the exciting drug delivery technologies that will be developed by our project partners”. Prof Basit said “We are very excited to be able to work on such an innovative and exciting project and we look forward to taking 3D printed medicines into the clinic to improve patient outcomes”.
FabRx will be participating in the following events, where our team of specialists would welcome the opportunity to discuss and demonstrate our 3D printing technologies.
We hope to see you at one of the events below but if you are unable to attend, please contact us directly for further information.
24 January 2019
Dr. Alvaro Goyanes, co-founder and director of FabRx, will be the invited speaker to present “3D printed medicines: A digital pharmacy era”
Facultad de Medicina y Odontología, San Francisco st, 5782 Santiago de Compostela, Spain
We have recently published three interesting reviews in collaboration with University college London (UCL) about different aspects of the applications and challenges of 3D printing in the pharmaceutical sector.
You can find the articles following the links below. Contact us for reprints or to talk about new applications.
Pharmaceutical researchers are becoming more interested in the use of three-dimensional printing (3DP) to manufacture medicines. Since 3DP is a highly flexible technique to manufacture personalised objects, 3DP can potentially become a new method to fabricate patient-tailored printlets (3D printed tablets).
Different 3DP systems have been explored for their use in Pharmaceutics, including fused deposition modelling (FDM), selective laser sintering (SLS), powder liquid and recently stereolithography (SLA). SLA has some advantages over other types of 3DP, mainly its remarkable resolution and the avoidance of thermal processes which can be detrimental for certain drug molecules.
What is stereolithography?
Stereolithography (SLA) 3D printing is an additive manufacturing process where a photocurable liquid resin is solidified in a highly accurate, controlled and rapid way.
Schematic representation of an SLA 3D printer
In SLA 3D printing the solidification of the building material occurs in a layer by layer manner by means of a photopolymerisation process. During photopolymerisation, 3-dimensional crosslinked networks are formed upon exposure to an appropriate source of light which allows the possibility of fabricating hydrogels.
mage of a Form 1+ SLA 3D printer (Formlabs Inc.)
Why hydrogels are important
Hydrogels are three-dimensional hydrophilic polymeric networks, which are able to absorb large amounts of water or other liquid agents hence having gel behaviour. This property makes hydrogels great candidates for their use for biomedical purposes, for instance in tissue engineering and in drug delivery systems. The use of hydrogels as medicines allows the possibility of having a controlled release of drugs over time from these polymeric matrices which is desirable to enhance efficacy and safety.
SLA 3D printed hydrogels
Researchers at the UCL School of Pharmacy fabricated for the first time ibuprofen-containing hydrogel printlets using a highly biocompatible photoinitiator (which is a molecule capable of initiating a light-triggered polymerisation process) and a commercial desktop SLA 3D printer. The hydrogels had different contents of initial water in the liquid formulation to modify the speed at which the drug is released from the printlets which can be useful to tailor drug release profiles to the individual needs of patients.
Images of hydrogels printlets containing ibuprofen fabricated using SLA printing
How is the drug contained in the printlets and how is it released?
During 3D printing the drug becomes entrapped in between the polymer crosslinked network. When the printlets are placed in water, they swell as the network loosens. When this happens, the drug molecules are released in a controlled manner. Depending on multiple factors including how tight the polymer networks are, the drug release can be modified, in this research since the hydrogels retain the water added prior to printing, this acts as a pre-swelling agent that increases the drug release rate.
Drug dissolution profiles from the hydrogel printlets. The drug released was determined in a dynamic dissolution system to mimic the conditions in the gastrointestinal tract; the red line shows the pH values of the media.
The Potential of SLA 3DP in the Pharmaceutical area
SLA can become a new method for fabricating drug-loaded hydrogels with tunable mechanical and physical properties and drug release profiles. SLA avoids the risk of thermal degradation and additionally offers a way to fabricate highly complex structures with a great resolution, which can be useful to modify the way in which the drug is released.
It’s been described as a ‘wonder material’ and there’s good reason too. Graphene is set the change the future of numerous industries across the world. Deriving from graphite – commonly found in pencils, Graphene is the world’s first 2D material. So, what actually is it? Why is it getting everyone excited? And furthermore, what’s its potential economic impact?
The Discovery of Graphene
Graphene has been talked about for many years. There have been countless experiments that have tried but failed to extract it from graphite.
In 2004, this changed. Using experimental techniques, two researchers from The University of Manchester, Professor Andre Geim and Professor Kostya Novoselov, managed to isolate the material. They went on to win a Nobel Prize in Physics in 2010 for their ground-breaking work.
200 x Stronger than Steel, 1m x thinner than hair
So, why is Graphene such a hot topic?
It’s over 200 time stronger than steel and a million times thinner than a strand of hair. It’s made up of a hexagonal lattice of carbon atoms and is only a single atom deep.
The material is recognised for being extremely flexible, lightweight and conductive. It can even be used as a barrier – preventing even helium from passing through it.
As a result of it extraordinary properties, Graphene has found numerous uses. It can be used as a single layer or stacked to serve specific uses. It can also be mixed with other materials and liquids. It’s been labelled by many as ‘the material of the future’ and the opportunities it brings are seemingly unlimited.
The Economic Impact of Graphene
It’s estimated that by 2020, the global market for graphene-based items or products will be worth around £500 million.
What is Graphene Used for Today?
Today, Graphene is being used in a wide range of industries and products. You’ll be able to find it in wearable tech, tennis rackets and even lightbulbs. It’s being developed for uses in cars, aircraft, buildings and energy storage too. It’s likely to boost efficiency across the board and revolutionise many current processes. We expect to see entire markets born from this material’s potential.
The Potential of Graphene
There are numerous potential uses for graphene. Graphene membranes, for instance, could help to transform water purification technologies in developing countries.
The exceptional conductive properties, both electrical and thermal, could lend Graphene a wider industrial appeal. From the electronics sector to healthcare, sports and defence markets – the benefits of graphene will be seen globally and in many different shapes and sizes.
The UK is a leading figure in developing the material for industry and will continue to benefit from its various innovations.