Aug 5, 2016 | By Alec

Remember Aprecia’s Spritam? Almost exactly a year ago, it became the world’s first 3D printed drug approved by the FDA. An epilepsy drug, Spritam features a very porous 3D printed structure that immediately disintegrates when touched by liquids – perfect for efficiently delivering high doses that are easy to swallow. While that breakthrough paved the way for more 3D printed drugs, startup Multiply Labs is now showing that the same structure customization techniques can be applied to supplements as well. Through their new service (now open for pre-orders), you can pack all your desired supplements into a single customized 3D printed pill that releases them throughout the day – exactly when you need them.

It’s a important breakthrough that can certainly have a huge impact on today’s society. For we all see the importance of eating healthy, but very few of us actually do it. Thanks to overflowing schedules, we eat too many processed and frozen foods, drink too much coffee and so on. Supplements could do us a world of good, but then who wants to take five different pills throughout the day?

Enter Multiply Labs. “For the first time, we made it possible to create your own personalized supplement pill that can be customized to release different supplements at various times throughout the day. With one pill in the morning, you can have your standard health-boosting supplements released immediately and a burst of caffeine released later in the day,” says startup co-founder Tiffany Kuo.

It’s a remarkable concept based on patent-pending drug release technology, which has been developed by researchers from MIT and the University of Milan. This breakthrough has been outlined in the paper 3D printing by fused deposition modeling of capsular devices for oral pulsatile release based on swellable/erodible polymers. In a nutshell, they used a simple MakerBot Replicator 2 to 3D print hollow capsules from HPC-based filaments (a type of cellulose). Through 3D printing, the size and shape of these capsules can be adjusted, and even feature different compartments for supplements. Thanks to dissolvable walls of varying sizes, these are released throughout the day.

What’s more, they were relatively easy to design. Using in-house made PHC filaments (not commercially available yet), they set up a 3D printer to manufacture perfectly sealed capsular devices. Most importantly, the results showed that the capsules feature a lag in the release process of the supplements. “The release test of assembled capsular devices pointed out a lag phase before rapid and quantitative liberation of the drug. The possibility of manufacturing capsular devices for oral pulsatile release by FDM 3D printing starting from HPC filaments was thus demonstrated,” they wrote in the paper.

The results are impressive and underlines the potential of 3D printed medication. In fact, they found out in subsequent studies that numerous digestible polymers can be easily 3D printed, and can even be modified for either immediate or delayed release. With these half-inch capsules (loaded with active ingredients), any kind of release mechanism can be realized.

While this could have a huge impact on the entire pharmaceutical industry, co-researcher and mechanical engineer Fred Parietti began by bringing their breakthrough to the world of supplements. Quickly joined by a team of other entrepreneurs, including Joe Wilson, Multiply Labs was founded.

As Wilson’s partner Lisa Conn recalled, they quickly started work with a focus on customer experience. “They conducted hundreds of customer and expert interviews, then applied to some of the top incubators in the world,” she wrote. “Multiply Labs would produce high-end customizable, personalized supplements—allowing consumers to program which ingredients they want and when in the day they want them released, all in a single capsule. Personally, this would help me manage my health.”

But of course you could say: surely we all roughly need the same supplements? Why do you need to customize them? Well, it all depends on your diet. If you’re a vegan or vegetarian, you might want to get some extra protein in. If you eat a lot of processed foods, some extra vitamins (released straight away) would be very welcome. And anyone would enjoy a Vitamins B6, B12, and D3 kick start every morning. But if you’re addicted to coffee, you can even insert a caffeine boost that won’t be released until the afternoon – replacing a few cups. And all of that in one pill taken in the morning.

That is the beauty of these 3D printed capsules. Using their mapping algorithm, they can recommend a personalized pill that completely matches your own preferences when it comes to supplements and quantities. And whatever you need, it all fits into the half-inch capsules because most of the fillers and additives found in many other pills are removed. If you’re interested, you can now sign up for pre-orders on their website now. A batch of 15 pills (enough for 15 days) costs just $19, with shipping set to begin in May 2017.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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