Louisiana Tech researchers use 3-D printing to create bioresorbable drug delivery system

Jeffrey Weisman, a doctoral student in Louisiana Tech's biomedical engineering program, uses a 3-D printer to create bioresorbable filaments.--Courtesy of  Louisiana Tech University

Researchers at Louisiana Tech University say they have harnessed 3-D printing for drug delivery by fabricating bioresorbable filaments enabling targeted delivery of antibiotics or chemotherapeutics.

"Through the addition of nanoparticles and/or other additives, this technology becomes much more viable using a common 3-D printing material that is already biocompatible. The material can be loaded with antibiotics or other medicinal compounds, and the implant can be naturally broken down by the body over time," Jeffery Weisman, a doctoral student in Louisiana Tech's biomedical engineering program, said in a statement.

Currently, antibiotic implants are made of nonbiodegradable Plexiglas, which contains toxic carcinogenic substances, and require a second surgery for removal, the release says.

3-D printing makes the bioresorbable filament technology practical because it allows for customization and decentralized manufacturing, said Louisiana Tech biomedical engineering professor David Mills in the statement: "Currently, embedding of additives in plastic requires industrial-scale facilities to ensure proper dispersion throughout the extruded plastic. Our method enables dispersion on a tabletop scale, allowing researchers to easily customize additives to the desired levels. There are not even any industrial processes for antibiotics or special drug delivery as injection molding currently focuses more on colorants and cosmetic properties."

Device companies such as Abbott ($ABT) are already selling and/or developing bioresorbable drug-eluting stents. Could bioresorbable drug-eluting catheters or implants be next?

They would certainly be to the industry's benefit. For instance, Titan Pharmaceuticals ($TTNP) and Braeburn Pharmaceuticals are working together to commercialize a clinical stage implant for the treatment of opioid dependence. The product was rejected by FDA in May. One of the FDA's requests for future approval was "human factors testing of the training associated with Probuphine's insertion and removal," according to sister publication FierceBiotech.

In fact, now publicly traded Intersect ENT's dissolvable sinus implant garnered a $30 million Series D funding round in early 2013. It is designed to be placed by a physician during a normal office visit without surgery. The company's implants deliver the corticosteroid mometasone furoate while the device dissolves, keeping the sinus open for up to 30 days in studies.

- read the release

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