Thinking Outside the Pyramid
Earlier this year, a research group used 3D printing to give tablets a geometric makeover.
Stephanie Sutton |
Simon Gaisford, Reader in Pharmaceutics and Head of the Department of Pharmaceutics at University College London (UCL) has a keen interest in the concept of 3D printing solid dosage forms. Earlier this year, Gaisford and his team used 3D printing to give tablets a geometric makeover. The group created several shapes that are difficult to produce using traditional tablet manufacturing techniques, including a cube, pyramid, cylinder, sphere and torus (1) – they even experimented with animal-shaped tablets. But the project wasn’t about producing weird and wonderful geometries just for fun; different shaped tablets have different drug release profiles – and could be useful for personalized medicine. The pyramid dissolved the fastest, whereas the cylinder was the slowest – drug release was dependent not on the surface area, but on the surface area-to-volume ratio.
“With 3D printing, it is possible to print tablets of any size and shape – and the minimum production run is one,” says Gaisford. “This means we can (i) explore the effect of geometry on drug release rates in a way never possible before, (ii) construct multi-layered or multi-faceted tablets (such as ‘poly pills’), and (iii) truly consider the paradigm of personalized medicines where the dose or dose combination can be tailored to the patient.”
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