3D Printing Pills In 7 Seconds

Long lines at the pharmacy may soon be a thing of the past! Getting your hands on needed medication can be a lengthy process with multiple steps involving doctor’s visits, referrals, prescriptions, and trips to the pharmacy. Moreover, mass-manufactured medicines may treat only some of your symptoms, relying on a one size fits most approach.

A new method for manufacturing medicines could solve some of these problems in the future. Alvaro Goyanes from the Department of Pharmacology at the University of Santiago de Compostela, and colleagues, have used innovations in 3D printing to produce customized pharmaceuticals in seconds. Their findings have been published in the journal Additive Manufacturing.

There are multiple 3D printing technologies, each of which utilize a different method for turning raw materials into printed objects. Some start as a powder or filament which is manipulated into a finished product, while others use a container filled with printable liquid. This method is known as vat polymerization and typically involves interactions with light which transform liquid monomers into solid polymers. In nearly every instance, the printing happens one layer at a time, which can mean that printing even small objects requires a considerable investment of time. Scientists used a modified version of vat polymerization to drastically reduce the amount of time needed to print medications.

Normally, in 3D printing, what you’re doing is called additive manufacturing. Every time you create a layer it takes time because the printer moves, or something changes. We created a mirrored system with light coming from three directions. There are no layers, the reaction takes place all at the same time,” explained Goyanes.

Typically, vat polymerization printers have only one source of light at the bottom, and layers are created one at a time, but this new system creates the entire object all at once, at the point where the three light sources come together. The entire printing process takes as little as seven seconds.

To create pharmaceuticals, researchers mixed active drug compounds into the monomers while they are in their liquid state. Once the printing is complete, those compounds are trapped within the polymers. Importantly, multiple tablets can be printed at one time, reducing the print time per tablet.

Right now, we are printing three tablets at a time, but it’s possible to print more than that at the same time. The fastest we managed to print was seven seconds, so the time per tablet is only a couple of seconds,” Goyanes said.

It’s worth noting that the monomers they’re using to print their medicine tablets are not currently approved for pharmaceutical use and further research is needed to ensure there aren’t any unexpected reactions occurring during the printing process. If all goes well, volumetric 3D printers could be deployed to hospital settings or pharmacies to rapidly print medications on demand.

The teams true focus, however, is developing a process for individualized medications, customized to the patient. Because the process is nearly instant and creates tablets in numbers more suited for individual prescriptions, future doctors could mix compounds at will to produce medications suited to the individual. You could feasibly even create a single tablet which contains all of the prescriptions a particular patient needs in a single pill.

Source: https://www.syfy.com/

The Drugmaker Merck Says Its Antiviral Pill Is Effective Against Coronavirus

The drug maker says its pill was shown in a clinical trial to cut the risk of hospitalization or death from the virus in half. Australia is accelerating plans to ease international travel restrictions for its citizens and permanent residents.

The drug maker Merck said on Friday that it would seek authorization for the first antiviral pill for Covid after its drug, known as molnupiravir, was shown in a clinical trial to cut the risk of hospitalization or death in half when given to high-risk people early in their infections.

The treatment could become the first in a wave of antiviral pill products, which experts say could offer a powerful new tool in efforts to tame the pandemic, as they could reach more people than the antibody treatments that are being widely used in the United States for similar patients.

I think it will translate into many thousands of lives being saved worldwide, where there’s less access to monoclonal antibodies, and in this country, too,” said Dr. Robert Shafer, an infectious disease specialist and expert on antiviral therapy at Stanford University.

Late-stage study results of two other antiviral pills, one developed by Pfizer and the other by Atea Pharmaceuticals and Roche, are expected within the next few months.

The Merck drug, which is designed to stop the coronavirus from replicating, is to be taken as four capsules twice a day for five days.

Merck said an independent board of experts monitoring its study data had recommended that its trial be stopped early because the drug’s benefit to patients had proved so convincing. The company said that the Food and Drug Administration had agreed with that decision.

For the research, the monitors looked at data through early August, when the study had enrolled 775 volunteers in the United States and overseas. For volunteers who received the drug, their risk of being hospitalized or dying fell 50 percent, without any concerning side effects, compared with those who received placebo pills, Merck said in a news release announcing the findings.

Seven percent of volunteers in the group that received the drug were hospitalized, and none of them died, compared with a 14 percent rate of hospitalization and death — including eight deaths — in the group that received the placebo.

The Merck pill’s efficacy was lower than that of monoclonal antibody treatments, which mimic antibodies that the immune system generates naturally when fighting the virus. Those drugs have been in high demand recently, but they are expensive, are typically given intravenously, and have proved cumbersome and labor-intensive for hospitals and clinics to administer. Studies have shown that they reduce hospitalizations and deaths 70 to 85 percent in similar high-risk Covid patients.

Source: https://www.nytimes.com/