Researchers from the School of Pharmacy at University College London (UCL) and pharmaceutical 3D printing specialist FabRx have developed novel 3D printed devices capable of delivering medicine to the bladder over a sustained period of time.
Using stereolithography (SLA), the researchers fabricated the devices for intravesical therapy – drug administration to the bladder via a catheter – in order to provide an alternative to oral medicines for the treatment of severe bladder diseases.
The researchers believe the development could provide a revolutionary approach to personalized drug delivery.
3D printing drug delivery devices
The 3D printing of drug delivery devices and the effects of their geometries is an increasingly well-researched topic, and one that is continuing to see innovative developments.
Earlier this year, global engineering technologies firm Renishaw concluded a clinical study investigating the safety and performance of its neuroinfuse drug delivery device and cerebral dopamine neurotrophic factor (CDNF) as a treatment for Parkinson’s disease. Meanwhile, researchers in the UK and the US developed a 3D printed device with a remotely controllable system for on-demand drug delivery using an integrated macroscale magnetic field.
Elsewhere, researchers from Zhejiang University and De Montfort University have 3D printed a multi-layer drug delivery device capable of delivering more than one drug to different parts of the gastrointestinal system, tiny 3D printed microbots capable of delivering drug payloads via blood vessels have been developed by ETH Zurich, and 3D printing has been explored as a coating technology for customizing the release rate of drugs for patient-specific delivery in Greece and Italy.
Treating bladder disease
During the study, the scientists’ used SLA and an elastic resin to manufacture two bladder devices, one solid and one hollow, which were designed to be inserted into the bladder using a urethral catheter. Prior to printing, the resin was loaded with three drug loads of lidocaine hydrochloride, a drug frequently used to treat cystitis and bladder pain.
The devices were able to alter their shape in order to pass through the catheter, showing good resistance to compressive and stretching forces, and once inside the body were able to retain their original shape once the external forces were removed. The 3D printed devices also demonstrated acceptable blood compatibility, and were retained in the bladder until removed through the catheter.
In terms of drug release, the studies showed a complete release of lidocaine was achieved within four days from the hollow devices, while the solid devices enabled sustained drug release for up to 14 days.
According to the researchers, the proof-of-concept bladder devices showed drug release profiles comparable to other intravesical devices, however this manufacturing method is simpler, more personalized, and cost effective. The research presents a new opportunity for SLA 3D printing in the manufacture of implantable bladder drug delivery systems, as the devices could potentially be adapted for the treatment of other bladder disorders such as overactive bladder disorder and bladder cancer.
Further details of the study can be found in the article titled “Stereolithography (SLA) 3D printing of a bladder device for intravesical drug delivery”, published in the Materials Science and Engineering journal. The study is co-authored by X. Xu, A. Goyanes, S. Trenfield, L. Diaz-Gomez, C. Alvarez-Lorenzo, S. Gaisford, and A. Basit.
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Featured image shows the manufacturing process for creating the 3D printed intravesical devices. Image via Materials Science and Engineering journal.