3D printing for personalized medicine – 3D printing

A Final Degree Project from the Faculty of Chemistry of the University of the Basque Country investigates hydrogels created with this technology for the controlled release of drugs in the human body

Drafting Interempresas19/11/2021

Nowadays, the use of biomaterials has become an increasingly interesting option to achieve personalized drug administration, since such a level of personalization cannot be obtained with traditional methods. Thus, numerous investigations and development of multiple types of hydrogels are being carried out in the field of biomedicine.

Itziar Insua, with a hydrogel variant, printed in 3D. Photo: UPV / EHU

In this context, Itziar Insua, a graduate student at the Faculty of Chemistry of the University of the Basque Country, presents in her Final Degree Project, which obtained the qualification of Honor Roll, variants of hydrogels, printed in 3D, for controlled release of drugs in the human body. It is a great advance, since, through 3D printing, we can add the amount of medicine we want to the hydrogel in a precise way in order to achieve personalized medicine, with specific types of applications, for example, for children who need lower doses of drugs than what is manufactured industrially or also for polymedicated patients. If these studies go further, it is possible to obtain controlled release profiles of the drugs and, thus, administer the dose of several pills in one.

In his study, Itziar Insua has focused on the field of rheology, which studies the deformation and flow of matter. I have paid attention to how the material behaves. Whether it is a hydrogel or not it is. Once it is printed, how does it behave, that is, if it is still the same material before and after printing it. In short, I have studied the change that the material undergoes during the 3D printing process. The results of the research confirm that, after printing it in 3D, the hydrogel continues to maintain its properties. Through frequency sweeps, it has been verified that after adding the drugs to the polymeric matrix, the mixtures continue to behave like hydrogels, this being the desired behavior. The stability of the compositions and the effect of the added drugs (atenolol and hydrochlorothiazide) have been studied using strain and time scans. All mixtures were found to be stable stored in the refrigerator, although some needed more time to stabilize than others (ranges from 2 to 7 days to reach stable mixtures).

The work carried out by this graduate student in Chemistry represents a first step for future research in the field of 3D printing for personalized medicine. I did not find many studies that were based on the relationship of the properties of hydrogels and their ability to be printed in 3D and, one of the values ​​of my work, is that I have found the criteria to do so; I mean, I know what I need in a hydrogel to be able to 3D print it. And that was something that was not known before this Final Degree Project and that could be used by other researchers in future studies.

About the author

Itziar Insua is currently studying for a Master’s degree in Chemistry and Polymers at the Faculty of Chemistry of the University of the Basque Country. His Final Degree Project, entitled 3D printed hydrogels for oral personalized medicine, was carried out under the direction of the professor of the aforementioned faculty, Robert Aguirresarobe, with the help of the doctoral student Oliver Etzold, and obtained the qualification was Matriculation of Honor.