Image Source: 3d natives

3D printing technology has its advancements in the medical field. Recently researchers from the University of South Australia have developed 3D-printed esophageal stents that could revolutionize the delivery of chemotherapy drugs for patients with esophageal cancer. 3D printing has become more important in the medical field because it helps in getting accurate results, personalized treatment for patients. By using Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM), the researchers were able to create a stent that could diffuse the chemotherapy drug 5-fluorouracil (5-FU) over a long period of time. 

Esophageal cancer is one of the most deadly cancers worldwide with a survival rate ranging from 5 to 30% depending on the severity. These 3D printed stents are useful to patients in two ways. Firstly they will help to relieve the symptoms of the disease and prevent patients from swallowing food. A blocked passageway is open in order to ease eating and drinking for patients. Secondly they are delivered to design 110 days of anti-cancer medication directly to the cancer site. These kinds of stents are ineffective and the first esophageal stents to contain active pharmaceutical ingredients. PhD Scholar Fouladian explains ” Blockages are commonly eased by an esophageal stent- a small tube that is placed in the food pipe to keep it open – but these too can become obstructed by invading cancer cells. Our new drug-loaded esophageal stents can help prevent further blockages by administering anti-cancer drugs directly to the tumour, limiting further growth while relieving the pressure of dysphagia.”

3D printing could really revolutionize the medical sector, especially in the treatment of patients. It helps in personalized treatment, such as by allowing the researchers to create a stent that is perfect fit for the patient. Researchers are finding new ways to bioprint materials, for example using cells to grow bones within the body. In this study active pharmaceutical ingredients are combined with polyurethane filament using FDM. Researchers confirmed that there was a minimal degradation of the drug during the extrusion process.

Director of UniSA’s Pharmaceutical Innovation and Development Group Professor Sanjay Garg said that ” 3D printing processes that combine medicines and medical devices are on the precipice of changing the way we deliver medicines. We’re now exploring the potential of 3D printing to design precise and individualised drug delivery systems. While more research is needed to further test the new drug-loaded 3D printed stents, we’re hopeful that this new technology will deliver positive outcomes for people with  esophageal cancer.”

Finally 3D printing has become powerful tool for personalized, patient specific geometries and drug doses in the near future.