Students use 3D printing to create drug releasing technology

Erik Brodin and Alex Prentice are researching how to 3D print controlled drug release scaffolds for targeted drug release in the body.

These scaffolds are printed from keratin and are implanted in a patient to control the release of drugs within the body. These materials degrade over time and release the drugs.

This new research differs from drug release from shots or pills, and have unique benefits.

3d printing

Alex Prentice using the 3D printer                              

“They stay in the body longer and are able to administer and control drug release over a longer period of time,” Brodin says.

Brodin, who is a chemical engineering graduate student, has made significant progress in the last year. "We have gone from not knowing anything about 3D printing hydrogels for drug release to modeling the printing in [the printer] and printing the hydrogels with drugs in specific locations to control their release.”

Brodin and Prentice (an undergraduate bioengineering major) are currently testing the pressure and flow rate for the computer model, and testing their printing parameters using BSA as the release drug. BSA (a common protein used in research tests) is being used by the team in order to perfect their printing parameters before using BMP2, a potent (and expensive) bone growth drug used clinically to mend bone fractures.

The next step is to infuse the drugs in the scaffolds and measure the time release of these drugs.

Brodin, Prentice, and their mentor, Jessica Sparks, professor in the chemical, paper, and biomedical engineering department, are planning on publishing two papers over the research that they have conducted. One on modeling and another on the changing release profile through the moving of drug locations.

By Maggie Cavanaugh