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Discovery & Development Dosage Forms, Drug Delivery

The Starch of Something Beautiful

One man’s half measure is another man’s overdose; or rather, one fully grown man’s dose can far exceed the recommended dose of a geriatric or pediatric patient. 

For Kizkitza Gonzalez, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of the Basque Country in San Sebastian, northern Spain, one solution to this problem lies in 3D printing. Why? First, 3D printed pills allow for tweaks to API levels. Second, a 3D-printed pill can be loaded with multiple drugs, or multiple doses of one drug. Third, such pills allow for fine-tuned control over API release.

In a recent paper, Gonzalez and her colleagues demonstrated that plant-derived forms of starch can be brought into the equation to provide a cheap and harmless boost to the potential capabilities of this new (and somewhat quirky) mode of medicine. “Based on our experience, we knew that the exceptional physical-chemical and biological properties of starch make a useful material for biomedical applications,” says Gonzalez. 

On-demand tablets sound like a natural solution. And starch sounds like a natural candidate – it’s certainly no stranger to the human body and it’s also hyper-abundant. In other words, starch is low risk and low cost.

To modify the drug release properties of 3D-printed starch pills, two factors can be manipulated – the botanical origin of the starch and the geometry of the tablet. Gonzalez, expressing confidence in these two “levers,” said that her team was able to produce a wide range of drug delivery profiles. 

Here’s to potato pills and maize medication!

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About the Author
Angus Stewart

Associate Editor of The Medicine Maker

Between studying for my English undergrad and Publishing master's degrees I was out in Shanghai, teaching, learning, and getting extremely lost. Now I'm expanding my mind down a rather different rabbit hole: the pharmaceutical industry. Outside of this job I read mountains of fiction and philosophy, and I must say, it's very hard to tell who's sharper: the literati, or the medicine makers.

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