Premature Babies to Benefit from 3-D Printing Technology

Neonatal_JacoplaneWe spoke with Zintro expert Scott Bork in August about the FDA approval of Spritam, the first 3D printed drug, designed to treat seizures brought on by epilepsy in children and adults. Aprecia Pharmaceuticals Company developed Spritam using ZipDose, a 3D printer that creates pills by printing out thin layers of powder, with layers of a water-based binder spread in between. According to Jorge Horacio Alessandri, a biotechnology and pharmaceutical expert, it is “welcome technology and an advance over current systems of drug delivery.”

Now there is more welcome technology in the world of 3D printing.

Premature babies in the U.S.–of which there are nearly 500,000 born each year–rely on plastic catheters to get the oxygen, nutrients, fluids, and medications they need to survive. Because these catheters are only available in standard shapes and sizes, it is difficult to accommodate the needs of all premature babies. Randall Erb, assistant professor in the Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering at Northeastern University, and his team have developed an innovative 3D printing technology that uses magnetic fields to shape composite materials into patient-specific products, including catheters. The biomedical devices will be stronger and lighter than current models and ensure an appropriate, customized fit.

“If you can print a catheter whose geometry is specific to the individual patient, you can insert it up to a certain critical spot, you can avoid puncturing veins, and you can expedite delivery of the contents,” said Erb in the story about the development in the Oct. 23 issue of Nature Communications.

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