A Helsinki startup has developed a ‘Medicine-as-a-Service’ system where drugs can be 3D printed to exactly match the needs of the patient in terms of their size, physiology, species, plus any allergies.
According to CurifyLabs, the startup that has created the system, there is one big drawback to the existing methods of administering medication. CurifyLabs says that the pharma industry’s capital-intensive processes to produce large volumes of tablets that are identical in dose, shape and size mean that these tablets may be unsuitable for treating patient populations who need more individualised treatments.
For example, these include:
- Pets, the variety of which varies widely and each species may need different size/shape tablets for different conditions.
- Children, because they have specific needs due their small body weight.
- The elderly, who often have trouble swallowing.
- Any patient group who currently have a very limited amount of suitable treatment options and benefit from tailored dosage forms and/or must have allergen-free treatments.
These issues mean that many current drug treatments are suboptimal for these groups, resulting in undesirable side effects and poor treatment efficacy.
The Solution? Curify MiniLab
According to Curify, the answer is to develop a small-scale manufacturing system which can be used effectively in a busy pharmacy and that can produce personalised medicines of any size, shape, or flavour to exactly meet the needs of niche patient groups.
The Curify MiniLab, which looks a bit like a small, stainless steel-finished fridge/microwave size cabinet with lab technology and tools inside enables on-site, sustainable, on-demand manufacture of medicines, customised to provide effective treatment for all patients. It can be used, for example, in pharmacies (it’s targeted primarily at pharmacists), clinics, veterinary practices, and other locations where tablets need to be dispensed.
Some of the key tech elements of MiniLab are:
- A user-friendly platform which the company says, “turns pharmacy compounding into a digital experience”.
- 3D printing technology, giving control over the composition of tablets.
- A built-in quality control system and technology that allows printing directly into blister packs.
Some of the key benefits of using the MiniLab are, for example:
- It could provide more effective treatments with fewer side effect risks for niche patient groups.
- It’s automated and seamless so requires less attention/time from human workers and eliminates the human error risk (in the manufacturing process).
- The precise, small batch production of pills mean less wastage.
- Being a self-contained, digitised unit with built-in quality control, it makes it easier and quicker to make high quality, targeted medicines, as and when required.
- It’s adaptable with a lot of scope, i.e. it can be used for many different niche patient groups, human or animal.
- Printing pills straight into blister packs makes it safer, i.e. no risks from human handling.
- With the system being digital, this removes the need for manual paperwork (saving time and wastage) and enhance efficiency.
What Does This Mean For Your Organisation?
Although the MiniLab is essentially targeted at pharmacies, giving them a fast, less labour-intensive way to more closely meet the needs of niche patient groups, it could be used in many other medical/clinical settings. This product is an example of how leveraging a combination of technologies can have the potential to solve not just long-standing treatment problems but could have significant human benefits too.
It is also another example of how, as in so many industries now, 3D printers are being used innovative ways to simplify manufacturing challenges. If this product (and others like it) proves to be successful, it may even change how we treat illness and lead to medicines that treat you as an individual by tailoring drugs to precisely to your body. In doing so, as highlighted by Curify, it may “remodel the world of health”.
By Mike Knight