Taking a pill every day is a cumbersome activity but it might particularly start to feel like a chore if you have to take several during the day, especially if your dosage is a combination of multiple pills. Scientists at the National University of Singapore (NUS) have come up with a solution which makes this activity a lot easier.
They have invented a new time-release tablet, made using a 3-D printer which combines the multiple dosage of all the pills into one. Although it should be noted that other researches have already come up with 3D printed time-release tablets which are printed layer by layer.
According to the researchers at NUS, these tablets come with certain limitation including the strength of the dosage and how uninterrupted they are in dispensing of said dosage, once ingested. The tablets created by NUS have none of these drawbacks and are comparatively cheaper and easier to use.
In a clinical setting the whole procedure would start with the doctor feeding the required specifications to the computer. These specifications include the number of pills the patient has to consume, at what dosage and at what times. This information then generates a computer model of a small multi-prolonged template, similar to the one in the photo at the top of the page.
This model is transferred to the 3D printer which creates a mold of the templates and mixes in the medication with non-toxic liquid polymer. This mixture is then poured into the mold creating a supporting cast of the template. In the last step the cast is once again wrapped in more polymer, but this time no more medication is added.
After swallowing the tablet the outer protective layer of the tablets slowly disintegrates, and reveals the drug suffused polymer underneath. Different parts of the medication are revealed at different times releasing medication as they are, depending on the shape of the template.
For example the five-pronged design depicted in the picture would dispense off medication at 5 different times and each dose would not contain the same medication. Prof. Soh Siow Ling and PhD student Sun Yajuan have published the details of this project. They are currently in talks with a multinational corporation in regards to its commercialization.