Way back in August of 2015 the FDA approved the first 3D-printed drug, Spritam. 3D printing is so prevalent in the medical device industry that even the FDA has a webpage on it. Recently, GE Healthcare announced it is trying to take 3D printing to the biopharmaceutical manufacturing space. Located in Uppsala, Sweden, the Innovative Design and Advanced Manufacturing Technology Center features both metal and polymer (Dustin Hoffman would call them plastics) 3D printers as well as collaborative robots. You had me at robots. The goal is to improve the manufacturing side of pharma (think lighter parts, faster production, improved design flexibility) and, by the way, Amgen is in. InsightCity recently penned another article on 3D printing. Definitely something to keep on your radar.
Yes, we stole that from The Most Interesting Man in the World. This, however, pales in comparison to what researchers at Brown University developed. And in case you’re feeling smart today, the title of their article in the Lab on a Chip journal is “Stereolithographic printing of ionically-crosslinked alginate hydrogels for degradable biomaterials and microfluidics.” There are more words we don’t understand in the abstract, but to cut to the chase, this method of printing “may enable adaptive and stimuli-responsive biomaterials, which could be utilized for bio-inspired sensing, actuation, drug delivery, and tissue engineering.” Essentially, biomaterial can now be removed or reversed (degradable) layer-by-layer in a controlled manner, opening possibilities for biopharmaceutical production and/or the controlled release of living cells or drugs and/or for use in artificial tissues. Isn’t science weird?
Nerds from the Universidad Carlos III de Madrid are about to experience the world’s most disgusting printer jam. They have developed a prototype of a printer that prints one of the first living human organs…skin. This bio-skin replicates the natural structure of human skin and can be produced in large scale for cosmetic, chemical and pharmaceutical product testing. It can also produce autologous skin. That’s a ten-dollar word that means “cells from one individual.” (Use it later. Impress your colleagues.) The autologous skin would be appropriate for individual patient uses such as severe burns. It doesn’t take a dermatologist, PETA representative or Xerox repair man to realize the amazing potential here.