Additive manufacturing (or commonly known as 3D printing) is rapidly emerging as a disruptive technology to enable unprecedented design flexibilities for the fabrication of highly complex and multi-functional parts and devices. This technology has already shifted manufacturing paradigms in many industries, including aerospace and medical fields. Specifically, with the approval of the first 3D-printed drug by the FDA in 2015, additive manufacturing has gained immense traction in the pharmaceutical industry to efficiently design and economically manufacture vaccines, drugs or targeted delivery systems with multiple functionalities.
In our department, we exploit 3D printing technology for accurate and reproducible fabrication of polyfunctional dissolving microneedle arrays (MNAs) with diverse designs for intercutaneous delivery of a broad range of biocargos.
The study led by Dr. Stephen C. Balmert and contributed by undergraduate researchers of our department (Shiv K. Sethi and Gabriel D. Falo) was recently published in the Journal of Controlled Release. In this project, our researchers utilized 3D printing in micro-scale and complemented this technology with substantial advances in biomaterials science and bioengineering to manufacture novel skin-targeted vaccine or drug delivery systems loaded with multiple bioactive components (e.g., antigen+adjuvant) in a scalable fashion.
They demonstrated not only effective fabrication of rapidly dissolving undercut MNAs compatible with small molecule therapeutics and biologics, but also robust and efficacious multicomponent cutaneous vaccination using these novel undercut MNAs. These unique MNAs with their design, manufacturing, and application advantages will likely enable a wide range of intracutaneous and non-cutaneous drug and vaccine delivery strategies in the near future.
The article can be read here.